Link About It: This Week’s Picks

A new Siri, a new Instagram, the Transit of Mercury and more in this week's look around the web

1. Watch the Shadow of Mercury Cross the Sun in Real Time

The Transit of Mercury—an astrological event that takes place just 13 times per century—happened earlier this week. The event occurs when our solar system’s smallest planet, Mercury, appears to cross the sun from Earth; producing a tiny, dot-sized shadow moving across the massive face of the glowing sun. The phenomenon is only viewable by telescope and other special equipment, but if you’d like to watch a recap, head to Slooh.

2. Search Google Straight From Your Texts with Gboard

Google is making it easier than ever to search the web with its latest product: Gboard. Developed for iOS, Gboard is a third-party keyboard that allows users to instantaneously search Google straight from their text messaging app (or virtually any app that uses a keyboard). Search results, images, YouTube videos and even GIFs can then be quickly inserted into a conversation without having to copy/paste links or save and upload images from your camera roll. Gboard is now available in the Apple App Store.

3. A Secret Portion of Central Park Just Reopened

A previously restricted portion of Central Park has reopened to the public after over 80 years. Located just south of Wollman Rink, the four-acre peninsula was closed off to the public in the ‘30s by former parks commissioner Robert Moses to serve as a sanctuary for birds. Now, under a new initiative by the Central Park Conservancy that aims to revitalize unkempt areas of the park, it will open to the public throughout summer. Head to the New York Times to see what times you’ll be able to explore the reopened space.

4. Siri’s Co-Founder Unveils a Next Generation Virtual Assistant

At this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt NY, Dag Kittlaus—a co-creator of Siri—unveiled what he hopes to be the next generation of virtual assistants. He calls the product Viv, and it differentiates itself from Siri through its deeper understanding of intent and an ability to program itself to best answer queries. Viv’s strengths also lie in its third-party integration capabilities, which remain at the heart of Viv’s development. Watch Kittlaus demonstrate Viv on stage at TechCrunch.

5. A Hidden Isamu Noguchi-Designed Ceiling Inside a U-Haul

U-Haul recently exposed a hidden Isamu Noguchi-designed ceiling at one if its branches in St Louis, Missouri. Created by the artist back in the 1940s, the sculptural ceiling was later hidden by partitions and other paneling about 20 years ago, with just a plaster mold of the design viewable at the St Louis Art Museum. “It’s something that needed to be shown,” stated Stephen Langford, the president of U-Haul St Louis. Now, the real thing is open for all the public to see in its natural environment.

6. What It Took to Redesign Instagram

Many today are waking up with a new colorful icon on their phones. Instagram has overhauled its logo and user interface, with the former boasting a bright pop of pinks and oranges and the latter dressed down in grayscale. Instagram’s head of design recently spoke with It’s Nice That about the redesign, explaining exactly what it took to reimagine the look of the one of the most popular apps in the world and how he and the rest of his team were able to preserve the spirit of the previous aesthetic: “Our thinking is [the logo] looks like the sunset picture that everyone’s trying to take. We wanted it to feel warm, optimistic and fun.”

7. ‘Tundra Kids’ Captures the Double Lives of Russia’s Nenets Children

Proving that taking school portraits is awkward and silly no matter where you are on Earth is “Tundra Kids”—a photo series of Russia’s indigenous Nenets children during their months-long stay at boarding school. By Japanese photographer Ikuru Kuwajima, the series captures the striking contrast between the kids’ lives at home—where they herd reindeer, hunt and live off the land—and their time spent sitting in classrooms learning about the rest of the world.

8. The Overlooked Architectural Beauty of Italy’s Courtrooms

Courtrooms aren’t typically places people voluntarily seek out, but they’re often spaces of architectural splendor. This is especially true for many of Northern Italy’s courtrooms, which were recently photographed by Luca Sironi for his series titled “Fragments of Justice.” He ventured throughout his home country to capture the legal chambers while they were vacant and quiet—filled only by natural light. The resulting images depict the subtle beauty of the rooms that often carry immense emotional weight.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.