All posts in “Olympics”

Winter Olympic Google Doodles, ranked

The Olympics are a time for some of the world’s best athletes to compete on the world’s grandest stage. It’s a time for the best humans on Earth to shine. But, you know, some times animals want in on the action too.

Cartoon animals, rather. During the duration of the Winter Games, Google has been throwing its own Doodle Snow Games, a lovely series of animations where jovial animals compete in Olympics-style competitions for superfluous awards. There’s chipmunks, millipedes, and raccoon dogs. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

As the Winter Games are coming to an end, it only makes sense to rank these works of art, awarding bronze, silver, and gold to the top three.

Take a look at some screenshots below and click through to see the full animation.

Image: Google

I don’t know what the deal with this fish is, but shooting your homies out of a tree is not Olympic behavior. Just look how resentful this insect looks. Last place.

This bear is great at the slalom, but that’s about it.

I mean this squirrel is cool, but something about being able to fly in a flying-based competition seems a bit unfair, no?

Honestly, I was just hoping this lil dude was ok.

The sound effects on this one get an A+, and hey, these ducks are the true winners just for trying.

Dogs flipping – what else do you need?

Millipede loves speed skating, but the real challenge is lacing up the skates. 

Tag yourself. I’m homie on the far left.

These cranes play hockey with THEIR BEAKS. Yes, THEIR BEAKS.

Love isn’t dead, it’s two birds dancing on ice.

Have you ever watched fireworks atop a ski lift? Well, if this dog’s reaction is any indication, it looks like a blast. They’re good fireworks, Brent.

I’ve got no idea what a raccoon dog is, but it sure is good at the downhill slope.

This tale of sportsmanship deserves a gold medal, as well as an Oscar.

LOOK AT THIS CHIPMUNK’S FACE AND TELL ME YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN MAGIC.

We can all agree that curling is the best Olympic sport. We can also all agree that turtles are great.

See you next time, Google creatures.

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Snapchat will not let users broadcast Live


Snapchat is finally getting Live video, but you won’t be able to broadcast. Today Snapchat announced it will pipe snippits of NBC’s Live Olympics coverage directly into its app. But when TechCrunch asked if users would be able to go Live, a Snap spokesperson told us on background that there’s no intention to open up broadcasting to Snapchatters. They said users have not been clamoring for Live broadcasting abilities, and the company doesn’t see many use cases for them.

Instead, Snap Inc says that transmitting live television to help Snapchatters experience culturally relevant moments is what makes sense. Snapchat won’t broadcast whole sports games or award shows, but says that it could stream the most important parts of big events, like the Oscars giving out Best Picture.

This effectively throws shade on Facebook, which has poured resources into building and promoting Live capabilities for users, but has seen very few stand-out broadcasts from those users beyond a woman laughing hysterically in a Chewbacca mask. 

Snap Inc is rightfully assuming that most users just don’t have interesting enough lives to warrant Live streaming. The feature can generate low quality notifications that annoy users, which frequently happens on Facebook and Instagram. And even if people open those notifications, the long-form, unskippable content might seem slow and boring compared to the fast-paced clips people are used to on Snapchat.

Snapchat Live For The Pros

Snapchat’s special Live video player shows the full horizontal TV stream in the bottom quarter of the screen where users can tap to choose which vertical slice they want to see zoomed into in the top three-quarters of their phone. Users will be able to sign up for notifications about all future Live broadcasts, or just ones about specific sports, the company tells me.

Strangely, Snapchat will show these notifications at the top of the Friends list if someone is subscribed and are currently in the app, despite the fact that the big redesign it’s rolling out was specifically designed to filter publishers and professional content out of the Friends section and into Discover. That’s because mobile devices don’t show their typical interstitial or drop-down notifications if you’re already in the app that’s alerting you. Still, it seems Snapchat is happy to bend its new design philosophy in order to give its publisher partners more visibility where users spend the most of their time.

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Snap is heading into the Winter Olympics with strong momentum after yesterday’s blockbuster earnings saw its share price climb 35% today. The secret to its success was focusing on Android and the developing world, which gave Snapchat strong international user and revenue increases, reviving the app’s growth rate after a brutal year competing with Instagram Stories.

Live Olympics coverage from NBC will start streaming into Snapchat on February 10th. There will also be crowdsourced Our Stories from the games and BuzzFeed-produced publisher Stories curating the best on NBC’s footage that include custom context cards with Olympics schedules and medal counts. NBC Sports will also produce two Snap Shows on snowboarders and other competitors.

Big events like the Olympics can pull in giant ad deals and lure new users to Snapchat. But the long-term success of the app depends on the core products like the camera, ephemeral messages, and Stories. Choosing not to pollute those with dull, haphazard Live broadcasts from users could ensure Snapchat lovers stay loyal.

Tokyo may use facial recognition for security at the 2020 Olympics

Look sharp. Facial recognition technology could be coming to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Look sharp. Facial recognition technology could be coming to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

While the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea are just around the corner, attention is already turning to the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, Japan as reports indicate that facial recognition will be used as a security measure at those games.

Over the Christmas holiday, the Japan Times reported that sources confirmed the technology would be used to “streamline the entry of athletes, officials and journalists to the games venues.”

While spectators won’t be subject to the recognition treatment, the number of people from the groups that will be screened with facial recognition could total anywhere between 300,000 and 400,000, according to the Times report. The extra layer of security will come on top of ID cards that will also be handed out to those participants. 

The organizing committee tested the technology at Japan’s housing during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with moderate success though there were complaints of long waits. They hope to sort out the wait and other issues over the next 2.5 years ahead of the Tokyo Games which start in late July 2020.

NEC, the company handling the technology, also tested out their gear at two Brazil airports during the 2016 Olympics and is behind numerous other similar projects, including software used by the Chicago Police.

Facial recognition is becoming more and more prevalent and the Olympics are just the latest arena to use them for security purposes. Other examples of planned or implemented facial recognition tech in use include robot police in China, bridges and tunnels in New York City, and more widespread (and questionable) uses by the FBI.

Hell, the technology also allows you to use your fancy new phone, ration toilet paper usage, and order fast food

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Boston Dynamics robot can now nail a backflip and land steadily on its feet

The humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics that was once beat up by a jerk human and later stumbled on stage during an important presentation is now jumping and flipping like it’s nothing.

Atlas just nailed a backflip during an epic parkour routine. Is this a proof that we will soon end up having Robot Olympics?

Boomer Phelps’ Instagram is the best thing about social media these days

If social media usage ever becomes an Olympic sport — which is truly not that unthinkable at the rate we’re moving — there will be but one participant worthy of a gold medal: Boomer Phelps.

The one-year-old son of Olympic legend Michael Phelps and his wife, Nicole, first captured the hearts of America while cheering on his dad from the stands of the 2016 Rio Olympics in a massive pair of patriotic protective earmuffs.

Since then he’s learned to walk, mastered the art of eating solid foods, and amassed an impressive 785K followers on Instagram, bringing pure, undeniable joy to timelines across the world.

In a troubling time where social platforms should come with “open at your own risk” warnings, Mashable needed to know more about Boomer Phelps — the sole beacon of light shining through the darkness of 2017 social media — so we did the only logical thing: called his mom. 

Nicole Phelps, 2010’s Miss California USA and mother of the best baby on Instagram, gave us an inside look at all things Boomer, sharing the story behind his account and revealing who runs it, along with her son’s 2032 Olympic plans.

But most importantly, she confirmed what we already knew to be true: the kid is freaking adorable.

Here are a few of the many things we love about Boomer.

He’s a mini Michael Phelps

You know that saying, “Like 23-time Olympic gold medalist father, like son?” Welp, it’s true. Boomer is just as obsessed with water as his dad.

Pool time!!!

A post shared by boomer phelps (@boomerrphelps) on Jun 14, 2017 at 12:50pm PDT

Nicole says that for Boomer, it was love at first bath. “We learned at a very early age that was the best way to make Boomer relax, just to get him in the water,” she said. “It must run in the family. He loves the pool, he loves the bath, he loves taking showers — any way he can get into the water he’s happy.” 

Sure, Michael’s retired but lucky for us Boomer is just beginning. 

He’s a star in the making

Think about it — how often do we get to see a potential future Olympian grow up right before our eyes? And though we don’t know whether Boomer will follow in his father’s footsteps yet, his mom isn’t ruling out anything. 

“Honestly, you never know. Boomer definitely seems to have a passion for the water,” she said. 

The couple claim they aren’t pushing Olympic fame (really?), but Boomer seems pretty content splashing around.

Are they really just going to let this talent go to waste? “The most important thing that I think Debbie [Michael’s mom] did for Michael was just allow him to do what he wanted to do, so if Boomer does decide that 2032 is his year and he’s gonna go for it then we’ll back him 100 percent,” she said.

Still, Michael’s coach Bob Bowman —who posts some precious pics of baby Phelps himself — says Boomer definitely “has the kick.” And much like the rest of America, in Nicole’s eyes, the only thing cooler than Boomer in the Olympics would be if Ryan Lochte’s new baby boy, Caiden Zane, made the team, too.

“Oh my gosh, that would be so cute,” she said, laughing about the dream 2032 teammates. “It would be awesome.”

But if Boomer decides the athlete life isn’t for him, that’s fine. He already has another cool fallback … drumming. “We actually have a drum for him and he’ll sit there just drumming away with the wrist movements and everything,” Nicole said.

A drummer? Named Boomer? Does this get any better?

His appreciation of food could not be more relatable

Like all great Instagram personalities, Boomer isn’t shy about sharing food pics. He adores cheese (same) and gets extremely psyched for meal time, according to mom. “He’ll sit in his high chair and he gets really excited and throws an arm up like he’s riding a bull,” she said. “He rocks back and forth and just makes his entire high chair scoot across the floor.”

He cherishes the weekend as much as the rest of us

Sure, Boomer’s account is a hub of positivity, but this baby is not immune to longing for the weekend. Being the very relatable baby he is, Boomer loves to lounge around and get down on Friday. You can tell by this very attractive photo of him waiting for the week to be over.

 Boomer Phelps is all of us.

He even makes sponsored #content ok … ish

Boomer is already using his platform to endorse products, and surprisingly, we don’t totally hate it. He’s partnering with Huggies Little Swimmers to teach water safety to everyone who doesn’t have the luxury of having a professional swimmer for a parent. So that basically means we’re in for a whole bunch of adorable Instagram videos of him and his dad in the pool.

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He keeps things light and breezy

Boomer clearly loves life and that’s what makes his account so perfect. It’s literally just a happy, innocent little baby having a blast — and with today’s online political brawls and insult-slinging troll armies, that’s pretty darn refreshing.

All smiles!!!

A post shared by boomer phelps (@boomerrphelps) on Apr 14, 2017 at 12:57pm PDT

Nicole explained that we see a lot of negativity on social media these days, so she and Michael are doing their best to teach Boomer to find beauty in everyday life. “I think that our biggest thing is that we want people to smile when they see Boomer, and if that is where they find their light on a daily basis then so be it,” she said.

So who’s the voice of Boomer’s Instagram?

It turns out Michael Phelps is running Instagram’s best account.

“I’ll take all the pictures, send them to Michael, and then he talks for Boomer and posts,” Nicole explained. “He asked me if I wanted the password once and I’m like, ‘Nope. I want nothing to do with it, this is all you.”

Started from the bottom now Boomer’s here

“It took on a life of its own that I don’t think either of us really expected,” Nicole said about the account.

When Michael decided to do the first post as a way for family, friends, and fans to follow Boomer, he had nearly 2,000 followers. After the 2016 Olympic trials  he surpassed 100,000 followers and kept going, leaving his own mother and Olympic athletes in his wake. “We always joke that we’re going to take this account away from him when he’s older and make him get his own followers.” 

But doesn’t Nicole worry about thrusting her child into the spotlight? Apparently not.

Nicole said she and Michael knew they wanted to secure a handle for Boomer before he was born, simply because they didn’t want somebody else to have the power to post under his name.

“We’ve gone back and forth whether or not it’s good or bad.”

“We’ve gone back and forth whether or not it’s good or bad,” she explained, but ultimately the couple likes knowing they’re the ones posting shots of their son and can show fans that they’re a normal family living a normal life.

So how does Boomer’s following compare to his Instababy competition? Well, he’s sadly not in the lead, but we know the kid’s got potential. While other famous Instababies like Dream Kardashian (son of Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna) have already hit one million followers before age one, everyone knows deep down that quality of posts is more important than follower quantity.

So there you have it folks, definitive proof that Boomer is everything you need in an Instagram idol.

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