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This might be a bad time if you’re a fledgling app developer trying to score a mainstream hit. At least, that’s the suggestion from numbers just released by comScore.
According to the Internet analytics firm’s “The U.S. Mobile App Report,” people primarily view digital media using apps on their smartphones. And yet, most download no apps on a monthly basis.
The takeaway seems pretty bleak: Users already have their favorite apps. They’re using them to channel in tons of video, music and other media. And they’re not really looking for new ones.
We Love Apps, But We Hate Downloading Them
ComScore’s report offers numerous data points, many of which aren’t all that surprising. Shockers include the fact that people tend to enjoy digital media on their phones (88%) more often than tablets (82%). More than half of smartphone users also use their apps every day, at 57%.
But the firm also reveals that mobile applications account for 52% of the time spent listening or looking at digital media. (Add mobile Web browsers to the mix, and the number goes up to 60%.) That actually squares with its other finding—that Facebook is the most used app—as the social network channels a huge volume of shared videos, photos and articles.
And yet, with all that activity, few users are grabbing new apps. More than one-third of smartphone users may be downloading one or more applications per month, but nearly two-thirds, at 65.5%, download none.
The reason probably isn’t the expense. Most apps are either free or cost just a buck. Maybe it’s just natural. After several frenzied years, mobile app development has simply matured to the point that people’s biggest needs—like streaming, socializing or sharing ice bucket clips—are already well tended to.
Are People Suffering From App Fatigue?
The other possibility is that users are tired of battling app fatigue. This can come from the constant management of mobile applications—from corralling tons of icons on a homescreen to adjusting app data to preserve phone storage—not to mention vetting apps, amid nerve-jangling headlines about sketchy privacy policies or security vulnerabilities.
Maybe it’s a little of both. Either way, people don’t seem too interested in experimenting with new options—which could spell bad news for any app developers hoping to become a breakout hit in Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
Of course, stores don’t make it easy sometimes. Quartz noted, rightly so, that iPhone app discovery in the App Store is a clustered mess.
In other words, unless you’re a priority business partner or already a major brand name, good luck getting noticed in there.
Lead photo by Cristiano Betta
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Ever find yourself scrolling through a website and seeing an advertisement that’s a little too well-targeted? You know, as if the advertiser knew you recently twisted your ankle and need to buy some sturdier shoes?
Columbia University researchers are working on XRay, a tool to help innocent Internet users make sense of those ads that stalk us, sometimes in ways that are worse than creepy.
Climbing In Your Inbox, Snatching Your Searches Up
As most people know by now, your personal data is the price you pay for “free” services such as Facebook and Google. When it comes to targeted ads, Google bots scan Gmail accounts looking for keywords to then serve up tailored marketing. Facebook does the same thing with “likes,” status updates and other info.
How that information is analyzed to create personalized Internet advertising is the mystery the Columbia University researchers want to help solve with XRay, the Web transparency tool they’re currently working on.
XRay, still in development, “detects targeting through input/output correlation.” An Internet user’s “inputs”—email, searches, etc.—are compared to “outputs,” or ads that user is shown. As you can probably guess, most of the ads were largely predictable. If “shoes” shows up in an email you’ve sent, you’ll likely see an advertisement for a shoe sale at a department store.
Targeting, however, doesn’t stop at shoes. In developing XRay, researchers also found invasive ads targeting sensitive topics in user emails, including depression and pregnancy. What’s more, targeting based off such health-related keywords is potentially dangerous. For instance, one test showed that inputs containing the word “depression” would deliver ads for questionable quackery such as shamanic healing.
XRay also demonstrated the danger for consumers when companies misuse such keyword targeting:
Imagine an insurance company wanting to learn about pre-existing conditions of its customers before signing them up. The company could create two ad campaigns, one targeting cancer and the other youth, and assign different URLs to each campaign. It could then offer higher premium quotes to users coming in from the cancer-related ads to discourage them from signing up while offering lower premium quotes to people coming in from the youth-related ads.
XRay is still a prototype. Researchers tested it with Gmail to predict ads based off of email correspondence, and YouTube and Amazon video and purchasing suggestions based on previously viewed items. When widely available, XRay is expected to work across multiple platforms. In initial testing, XRay accurately predicted the types of ads that will be displayed in the future with 80 to 90% accuracy.
XRay’s code will be open source, and eventually this tool will be available to everyone with an Internet connection. Such insight could help the average Internet user better understand how companies use their data. It might also help privacy watchdogs call out malicious advertisers who abuse keyword targeting.
The team will release its research paper this week at USENIX Security 2014, a top security conference in San Diego, Calif. XRay is supported by the National Science Foundation, DARPA, Google and Microsoft.
Lead image by Asja Boroš
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Pigeon has rocked the local SEO world. How should we respond to Google’s new local search algorithm update?
The post Worried About Pigeon? Just Keep On Truckin’ appeared first on Search Engine Land.
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Just days after Apple released a report that revealed it’s not much more diverse than the rest of Silicon Valley, the company updated its executive leadership page in a way that spotlights more diversity among a lower rung of executives.
Apple’s website now features five additional executive profiles, two of which are women: Lisa Jackson, vice president of environmental initiatives, and Denise Young-Smith, vice president of worldwide human resources. The recent additions are all vice president-level executives who report to CEO Tim Cook.
Cook mentioned both Jackson and Young-Smith as examples of diverse executives in a letter that accompanied its transparency report on Tuesday. Apple hired both women within the last year and a half, 9to5 Mac reports.
Though they’re in non-technical roles—men make up 80% of Apple’s technical workforce—both positions are high profile, public facing jobs. At the very least, they make women much more visible at the male-dominated company.
Apple is clearly making an effort to increase workplace diversity, at least the public perception of it. It’s following a trend in which several big tech companies have admitted they’ve got a lot of work to do in terms of hiring talent that isn’t white and male.
Perhaps this brings us closer to the day when Apple will feature a female executive on stage at its annual WWDC meeting for the first time ever.
Lead image by matt buchanan
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Negative SEO: Competition in Law Firm Marketing Just Got A Lot Uglier
The National Law Review
In the day-to-day world of SEO, it is not always that you get to play detective. But when we saw a suspicious and alarming spike in harmful backlinks to our client's site, we began to dig deeper. What we uncovered — a negative SEO campaign — is a …
View full post on SEO – Google News
Design thinking, and more specifically UX design thinking, is a pervasive perspective, whereby I constantly critique the world for design flaws that promote incorrect behaviors. Conversely, UCD is just a methodology for creating usable designs.
View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest
Yahoo just acquired Flurry Mobile, a leading analytics and advertising company whose services are widely used among app developers and publishers.
The deal could be a big one for Yahoo. Flurry has long been considered a standout in the business of collecting and interpreting data that show how people use their mobile devices, ahead of other third-party solutions like Upsight, Localytics, Distimo and Mixpanel and even analytics from Google and Apple.
Under CEO Marissa Mayer, Yahoo now thinks of itself as a “mobile first” company and has scooped up many mobile-related startups in the past couple of years to fill out its mobile portfolio. According to its latest earnings statement, Yahoo’s mobile apps and search services have 450 million monthly users.
See also: Yahoo: Destroyer Of Startups
As with any Yahoo acquisition, it’s unclear what Flurry’s long-term outlook might be. Under Mayer, Yahoo has a habit of buying startups and closing them down while keep the employees and the intellectual property.
Yahoo clearly thinks Flurry can help grow its mobile advertising business. Announcing acquisition on Yahoo’s corporate Tumblr account was Scott Burke, the company’s senior vice president of advertising technology.
“After the transaction closes, the Flurry team will remain in its present locations, where their vision, mission, and focus will stay the same. Flurry’s products will continue to operate and innovate with Yahoo’s support and investment,” Burke wrote.
Yahoo is purchasing a window into everything that’s going on in the world of mobile apps. Flurry has a massive trove of data on just about every app category; roughly 170,000 developers currently use its analytics. Flurry sees 5.5 billion app sessions (the act of opening an app, performing an action and closing an app) a day and is on 1.4 billion devices across the world. In his statement, Burke said that Flurry analytics are on an average of seven apps on any individual smartphone.
Flurry’s pile of data has made it one of the best spotters of mobile trends across the industry, whether noting the rise of mobile apps over use of the open Web or that the craze for dating apps was extremely popular with men. Flurry’s mobile data reports have been seen as go-to reading for anybody interested in what is happening in the app economy for several years.
Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed, but reports indicate that the deal is between $300 million and $1 billion.
Lead image of Simon Khalaf at ReadWrite Mix by Madeleine Weiss for ReadWrite
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Bare-bones messaging is all the rage, because, let’s face it, actually composing a message made up of original words you think up in your head is a lot of work.
The sheer fatuousness of these apps has riled people up. While others pondered why anyone would sully the world by creating Yo and its ilk, we had a different question: How hard is it to code a simple messaging app that just sends a predetermined phrase?
There was only one way to find out.
We had to build our own annoying messaging app.
I used text messaging rather than push notifications because text is a universal, sure-fire way to annoy your friends without requiring them—as Yo does—to download an app.
I wrote the app in Python, an English-like programming language ideal for beginner developers who want to make something silly while working with Python. It took all of 29 lines of code.
Here’s a tutorial to help you follow along with the process, so you can see how easy it is for anyone to build a simple Yo clone.
One Click Message is a Web app, not a phone app, but it still texts anyone you want. When you build it, you select a word or phrase that you’d like to send in one click. Mine rickrolls people with Rick Astley lyrics.
And when your friends text you back, you can display all their exasperated replies like trophies right there on your Web app. (Note to self: I may need to get a lawyer soon. Or new friends.)
There’s very minimal coding required to get this off the ground. While I’ll walk you through how I wrote the app, you don’t have to redo the raw coding. Instead, you can copy my work—feel free!—by cloning my GitHub repository, where I stored the source code for the very small, simple program.
Want your own? Here’s how to do it in just ten steps.
1) Sign Up For Twilio
Twilio is a company that makes developer-friendly set of tools for creating text and voice applications. Twilio lets you call and text your own phone number for free and charges three fourths of a penny for calls and text messages to any other phone.
When you sign up, Twilio will give you a phone number (this is what our app will use to text your friends) and API credentials (this is what will allow our app to access our account). I’ve blurred mine out because you should never share these with anybody!
2) Upgrade Your Twilio Account
In my previous tutorial, My Fish Just Sent Me A Text Message, we used Twilio for free, because I was just sending texts to myself. But for a messaging app, we’re going to want to be able to text other people too, so we’re going to have to upgrade our Twilio account by paying for it.
Twilio uses a credit card on file to bill you, but if you add $5 to your account, that’s enough to send and receive about 666 texts on your app—plenty for an experiment like this.
Why pay for texts? Twilio is one of the easiest ways I’ve found to integrate messaging into your development projects, and carriers charge for every text message anyway. It’s hard to find a similar service that’s both free and flexible.
I promise this is the first and last time you’ll have to fork over money for this tutorial. Let’s move on to another tiered free-to-pay tool, of which we’ll be using just the free part…
3) Sign Up For Nitrous.io
There are a lot of options for spaces where you can build and host your own online app. When I built a random non-sequitur Twitter bot, I used Heroku. This time I’m using one of Heroku’s competitors, Nitrous.io. They’re both development environments and online hosts for apps. This means you don’t have to think about setting up your own server—you can just run your code and go.
Why choose one Web-based app builder over another? In this case, I chose Nitrous because it launched with Twilio functionality already built in. Using a different service might mean having to write more code, and I wanted to do the least amount of work possible here.
Sign up with an email and wait for Nitrous.io to email you your confirmation.
4) Create A New “Box” For Your Code
On Nitrous.io, you build and host apps by putting them in different repositories, or as Nitrous calls them, boxes. A free account earns you one box. That’s plenty.
Once you’re signed up with Nitrous, go to your dashboard and click the orange button that says “New Box.” Ours is a Python app, so select “Python/Django.”
Don’t worry about the unusual name Nitrous.io will assign you. It does so to make sure every box has a unique name. Because it’s so easy to create new boxes, Nitrous has to make sure it has lots of names available and they don’t repeat.
Finally, at the bottom where it says, “Download a GitHub repo,” you’ll want to select my One Click Message repository by typing in https://github.com/laurenorsini/one-click-message.git.
Take a moment here, if you like, to look at my code. I use Flask, a microframework for Python, which adds new usability to Python in a number of different ways. For the purposes of this project, we’re focusing on Flask’s ability to simplify integrating Web-based forms with the Python language. In this case, it’s a form that collects your friend’s phone number and passes it on to Twilio, which in turn sends out your designated annoyance text.
Why use a microframework instead of just writing it all myself in Python? Because it’s another opportunity to write less code than we have to. Instead of writing lines of code to bridge the gap between Web forms and Python functions, we just call Flask in to do our dirty work.
When you’re done, it should look like this:
5) Set up the Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
When your box is created, there will be a new orange button below it that says IDE. An IDE, or integrated development environment, is just a place where you can work on code. Click it. You’re now in the part of Nitrous that lets you examine and edit your app’s code.
There are a couple of panels here. To the left is the file hierarchy. If you click on “Workspace,” you’ll see the GitHub repository “one-click-message” populated beneath it. To the right is the chat. I usually just close that, because I’m working on this myself rather than with coding partners.
In the center is where you edit files. And the entire bottom half of the screen is the console, where you test and deploy programs.
Let’s go down to that bottom screen now. First, we need to install the Twilio API like this:
pip install twilio
This is one of the benefits of using Nitrous. Because we selected its Python option, pip, a program which helps install new Python code, is already installed.
Next, we’re going to install Flask, the framework that adds additional functionality to Python programs. Remember how our finished app allows you to input a phone number? While Twilio is adding messaging functionality, Flask makes it possible to build responsive Python forms.
pip install flask
Now you’ve got all the tools you need in your IDE to get this project going.
6) Add Your Twilio Identication to App.py
If you look inside the one-click-message folder, you’ll see that there are six files in it, not counting images. Two of these, form.html and messages.html inside the Templates folder, make up the visual Web pages that you see when you interact with the app. The cascading style sheet, form.css, is what makes them look pretty.
But the glue holding the entire project together is a Python script named app.py. This is the only part of the project you actually have to alter in order to get it to function.
Inside app.py, I’ve inserted comments about what certain parts of the program do. The part you need to pay attention to right now is:
client = TwilioRestClient ('ABC', '0123')
twilio_number = "+1234567890"
Fill in your Twilio credentials on the first line, and your Twilio phone number on the second. With these lines, we’re telling the program how to talk to Twilio’s application programming interface, and whose account to use.
7) The Fun Part: Add Your Message
Maybe it’s a stupid joke. Maybe it’s a really long string of words you text to people frequently and are tired of writing out. Maybe it’s a really long stupid joke. Either way, you’re going to want to put it in on this line in app.py:
client.messages.create(to=formatted_number, from_ = twilio_number, body = "Message of your choice.")
As you can see, it’s easy enough to change the message by going back into app.py and adjusting this line. So just put something fun for now.
Note to out-of-United-States tutorial readers: This is also where you would want to customize the program with your country code.
formatted_number = "+1" + number
I’ve told the program to add “+1” to any number inputted in the app because I’m in the US and so are the people I plan to text. But it may be different for you.
Finally, don’t forget to save the newly edited app.py!
8) Run Python
OK, we’re getting close to finishing up! Go back to the console at the bottom and navigate to the folder where app.py lives like this:
cd is a command that stands for “change directory.” We’re changing from our main directory to the one where app.py is so we can run app.py.
Here’s how you actual run it:
If you are in the right directory, the IDE should spit back something like this:
* Running on http://0.0.0.0:3000/
* Restarting with reloader
9) Preview Your App
With Python still running, go to the navigation bar at the top of the IDE and select Preview: Port 3000. We want the public port 3000, not the SSL (secure socket layer) option.
Your app should open up in another window, like this!
10) Get Texting!
Try out your new app by texting your own phone number. Don’t forget, you need to put it in like this: 1234567890, not like this: (123) 456 – 7890 for it to work. (It wouldn’t be hard to add a few more lines that match patterns by using a library like python-phonenumbers, but for simplicity, I skipped that.)
After you hit send, try sending a reply text, and refresh the page. This will probably be the least-irritated response you’ll get!
Text your friends, or share the app’s address with them and trick them into texting themselves.
Have fun! And if you get somebody to invest a million bucks in your obnoxious one-click messaging app, that’s just icing on the cake.
Lead photo by Jhaymesisviphotography
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