Skip to main content

Schemer: hands-on with Google's activity recommendation service

Schemer: hands-on with Google's activity recommendation service


You might have missed it when it first launched in beta back in December, but Google+ isn't the only social network the Mountain View-based search company has — there's also Schemer, a web and Android-based service (an iOS version is on the way) that's most appropriately described as an activity finder.

Share this story

Schemer Android
Schemer Android

You might have missed it when it first launched in beta back in December, but Google+ isn't the only social network the Mountain View-based search company has — there's also Schemer, a web and Android-based service (an iOS version is on the way) that's most appropriately described as an activity finder. Google has opened up Schemer to the masses this past week, and we've taken the opportunity to take the scheme-finding service for a quick spin, so read on for our first impressions.

Schemer is incredibly simple. If you've ever spent time with Foursquare, you'll immediately be reminded of that social network's tips and to-dos when you try out Schemer. Of course, they're not called "tips" on this Google service, they're "schemes," but the idea is the same. Users post recommended activities (usually connected to locations), and everyone can either mark things down as something they want to do or something that they've done. Schemer claims to have taken this to another level, however, with schemes that are recommended based on current weather conditions (e.g. if it's raining maybe you'd like to bowl instead of walking through the park), time of day (Saturday morning brunch, anyone?), friends' activities, and often-visited categories.

For Schemer to thrive, users need to come up with some good schemes

As you'd expect, the whole system — no matter how good the recommendations are — is completely dependent on how funny, inventive, and unique the schemes that users post are. After spending a bit of time with Schemer, there seems to be a fairly large variety of schemes available to pick and choose from. The "Find Stuff to Do" interface on both the website and Android app lets you select activities that are either nearby or are things that you can accomplish if stuck inside for the day. There are also over 20 categories that you can choose from ranging from DIY to beer to vacations to photography. Many of the recommendations here in New York are simple touristy activities in the realm of "go here," but the hope is that more schemes that are actually devious and ingenious will pop up. To help out with that, Schemer has got a fairly impressive list of partners including Time Out, Bravo, Travel Channel, IGN, Rolling Stone, NPR, National Geographic, and more (as well as ideas from the Schemer team itself) to help liven up the offerings.

In terms of the interface itself, it's unfortunately a bit barebones. Scheme pages themselves only offer a title (e.g. "Go to the top of the Empire State Building") and a list of comments. If you're lucky the author of the scheme will have elaborated a bit in one of those comments. There's also a spot for photo uploads and you can mark down a location. We can't help but think that if this interface encouraged more details the schemes themselves might be a bit richer.

Schemer doesn't compete with Google+ at all — in fact, it integrates with it and a Google+ account is required to use the service. Thankfully, this means that people in your circles are automatically brought into your Schemer account, so you'll start getting ideas immediately if you've got friends who are already using the service. However, this also means that if you want to make a new friend you'll have to add them to a Circle on Google+ — there's no way to separate the two. Once you've made some friends (called "accomplices") you can "rally" them to join you on a scheme. Lastly, Schemer will track what you've done and what you plan on doing, but that's about it (there is no gamification at this point). Only time will tell if users stick to Schemer and offer up some great ideas of what to do on your free time, but for now it's certainly worth a try next time you're sitting around on a Sunday afternoon looking to do something a bit different. Schemer is available now on the web and on Android, and an iPhone app is currently in the works.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 23 10 minutes in the clouds

Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.

Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.

External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.

Welcome to the new Verge

Revolutionizing the media with blog posts

Nilay PatelSep 13
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.

Spain’s Transports Urbans de Sabadell has La Bussí.

Once again, the US has fallen behind in transportation — call it the Bussí gap. A hole in our infrastructure, if you will.

External Link
Jay PetersSep 23
Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

Sundar Pichai addressed employees’ questions about Google’s spending changes at an all-hands this week, according to CNBC.

“Maybe you were planning on hiring six more people but maybe you are going to have to do with four and how are you going to make that happen?” Pichai sent a memo to workers in July about a hiring slowdown.

In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.

External Link
Insiders made the most money off of Helium’s “People’s Network.”

Remember Helium, which was touted by The New York Times in an article entitled “Maybe There’s a Use for Crypto After All?” Not only was the company misleading people about who used it — Salesforce and Lime weren’t using it, despite what Helium said on its site — Helium disproportionately enriched insiders, Forbes reports.

James VincentSep 23
Nvidia’s latest AI model generates endless 3D models.

Need to fill your video game, VR world, or project render with 3D chaff? Nvidia’s latest AI model could help. Trained on 2D images, it can churn out customizable 3D objects ready to import and tweak.

The model seems rudimentary (the renders aren’t amazing quality and seem limited in their variety), but generative AI models like this are only going to improve, speeding up work for all sorts of creative types.

Richard LawlerSep 23
Green light.

This week Friday brings the debut of Apple’s other new hardware. We’ve reviewed both the new AirPods Pro and this chonky Apple Watch Ultra, and now you’ll decide if you’re picking them up, or not.

Otherwise, we’re preparing for Netflix’s Tudum event this weekend and slapping Dynamic Island onto Android phones.

The Apple Watch Ultra on a woman’s wrist
Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge
External Link
Jess WeatherbedSep 23
Japan will fully reopen to tourists in October following two and a half years of travel restrictions.

Good news for folks who have been waiting to book their dream Tokyo vacation: Japan will finally relax Covid border control measures for visa-free travel and individual travelers on October 11th.

Tourists will still need to be vaccinated three times or submit a negative COVID-19 test result ahead of their trip, but can take advantage of the weak yen and a ‘national travel discount’ launching on the same date. Sugoi!

External Link
Thomas RickerSep 23
Sony starts selling the Xperia 1 IV with continuous zoom lens.

What does it cost to buy a smartphone that does something no smartphone from Apple, Google, Samsung can? $1,599.99 is Sony’s answer: for a camera lens that can shift its focal length anywhere between 85mm and 125mm.

Here’s Allison’s take on Sony’s continuous-zoom lens when she tested a prototype Xperia 1 IV back in May: 

Sony put a good point-and-shoot zoom in a smartphone. That’s an impressive feat. In practical use, it’s a bit less impressive. It’s essentially two lenses that serve the same function: portrait photography. The fact that there’s optical zoom connecting them doesn’t make them much more versatile.

Still, it is a Sony, and

External Link
Corin FaifeSep 23
If God sees everything, so do these apps.

Some Churches are asking congregants to install so-called “accountability apps” to prevent sinful behavior. A Wired investigation found that they monitor almost everything a user does on their phone, including taking regular screenshots and flagging LGBT search terms.