Posts tagged less
Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, posted a new video about a new change coming to Google’s search results related to the diversity of the results being displayed. Matt said that Google is launching “soon” a new change that will make it less likely to see results from…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Your smartphone should not be a source of stress. With its new Galaxy S4, it seems Samsung may not have gotten the memo.
It seems that every feature Samsung could possibly dream up ended up in the Galaxy S4. The company pushes the envelope with technologies and features that keep the rest of the industry on its toes. Yet it packs the Galaxy S4 with so many of its own branded apps, so many features of questionable value that don’t even work properly, that it detracts from the overall quality of the device.
Samsung does allow you to strip away many of those features. Its custom-made widgets can be thrown out, and functions like Air Gesture and Smart Pause can be turned off. Once you strip away all the superfluous garbage, the Galaxy S4 is actually a pretty nice device. And there are indications that Samsung recognizes the problem.
“Galaxy S3 and Note II are very feature-rich products. As is the S4. That is very core to the brand of ‘next big thing,’” said Nick DiCarlo, VP of Portfolio Planning and Product Marketing at Samsung Telecommunications America. “With the S4 you will notice that we have done a ton of things to make things simpler. We hope that this could be a phone that you would recommend to your mom.”
The Smartphone For Your Mom?
The term “fear of missing out” – FoMo – has been applied to the sociological concept of not wanting to miss anything your friends are doing in relation to social media, but it could just as easily apply to the Galaxy S4. With all the things that this smartphone can do, it’s easy to get the feeling that you are missing out on the capabilities of your own device.
Let’s take a look at some of the new features in the Galaxy S4:
Air View: Hover over an item like an email or a calendar date and Air View will display a preview of what is inside. This feature originally appeared in Samsung’s Note 2 with the built-in stylus but now can be done with a finger.
Air Gesture: Theoretically, you can answer a phone call, change songs on a music playlist, swap browser tabs or perform a variety of other functions just by waving your hand over he device. An extra infrared sensor picks up the motion and executes the command. At least it is supposed to. Except for one limited instance (moving an app from one home screen panel to another), I was not able to get Air Gesture to work. And this turned out be a disappointing theme with the Galaxy S4.
Smart Stay/Smart Pause/Smart Scroll: With Smart Stay, the screen stays on as long as you are looking at it. Smart Pause is intended to pause a video if your eyes look away. Smart Scroll is supposed to follow your facial motion and the tilt of your device to automatically scroll down a website. But no matter how hard I tried, with a wide variety of apps, I could not get Smart Pause to work. Smart Stay seems to work OK, but it was often hard to tell since I mostly seem to look at my smartphone for only a few seconds at a time. It was also difficult to get Smart Scroll to work. The instructions for these features note that your face and the background behind you must be well-lit, so Samsung seems to acknowledge that these functions won’t work all the time.
Multi-Window: You Can use two apps at the same time. A little tab appears on the left of the screen and essentially acts as a “recent apps” menu.
Easy Mode: For people who ave trouble using complicated devices, the Galaxy S4 has an entire mode with bigger fonts, icons and less home screen space. This works, but there’s no surer sign of the S4′s feature bloat than the need for an “easy mode.”
WatchOn: OK, this feature is cool. WatchOn uses the device’s infrared sensor to turn the S4 into a programmable TV remote control. It even recognize your TV and cable/satellite provider and displays a programming guide.
Samsung Hub: Samsung used to have several different media “hubs” for books, music, video and so forth. They have now all been consolidated to one Hub.
Group Play: This feature lets you to connect to other Samsung devices and play the same song through all of them at the same time, with one person acting as the DJ. This could be fun in some situations, but it’s mostly just a gimmick.
Expanded Settings/Notifications: Android comes with a simple drop-down notification center. Samsung’s TouchWiz has historically added radio buttons to it to control Wi-Fi, GPS, rotate and other functions. Since the S4 has so many new functions, the company added an entirely new section to the drop-down settings to toggle all the various features on and off.
“What we have done is create a form here which allows people to learn about the feature and decide if you want to turn it on our off. It is another way making these really, really powerful features more accessible,” DiCarlo said.
The Galaxy S4 comes pre-loaded with widgets and apps on its Android home screen panels out of the box, but these can be easily removed. See the composite image below for the pre-loaded apps and widgets on a Sprint version of the S4. (Note: Spotify does not come pre-loaded. I put that in to the only available space I could find on the Galaxy S4. )
With all this… stuff, is this really the phone that I would recommend to my mother? Or anyone’s mother?
The S4′s cameras have so much going on it deserves its own focus. Fortunately, though, the advanced camera functions are easy to use and understand. The Galaxy S4 has a 13-megapixel back camera and 2MP front camera – more than most competitors.
The goal of the Galaxy S4 camera is to give regular people (not just professional photographers) the ability to use more of its features. “Where we really focused was allowing people to really get a professional kind of photo experience super, super easy,” DiCarlo said. The camera interface uses a simple “mode” button on the display to toggle through the different ways the Galaxy S4 let you take a picture.
- Best Photo: Takes a burst of eight pictures and selects the best.
- Auto: Classic smartphone camera feature, automatically adjusts for light settings. On by default.
- Beauty Face: Enhances facial features automatically.
- Best Face: Combines five photos of a face to create the ideal image.
- Sound & Shot: Takes a still photo and records nine seconds of sound to go with it. Annoyingly, the clips play automatically when you flip through photos in the gallery.
- Drama: Takes multiple pictures of a moving object and transposes them to one shot. A standard feature on most digital SLRs.
- Animated Photo: You take a picture of someone waving at you. You can then go back into the picture and freeze portions of it, but keep the waving hand moving. Kind of like taking a picture to create an animated GIF.
- Rich Tone: Hi-definition. Most smartphones do this nowadays.
- Eraser: Is there something moving in your photo you want t oeliminate. Eraser lets you edit the photo to remove people walking in the background, or traffic in the foreground. Eraser does not work on stationary objects (like someone photo-bombing your pictures).
- Panorama: Creates a simple multiple panel shot – already standard on Apple and HTC smartphones.
- Sports: Speeds up the camera take capture pictures of fast movement.
- Night: Improves low-light pictures without flash.
Its quite a list, although a few functions, like Animated Photo, don’t work quite as well as they could. The camera also has a dual-function mode where you can insert your face from the front camera into the view finder of the back camera. All in all, except for maybe the HTC One, there may not be a better smartphone camera on the market.
One note: Some of the functions (animated photo, sound and photo) are saved to the Galaxy S4 in a proprietary Samsung file and can be shared only with other Samsung devices.
Hardware & Design
The specs on the Galaxy S4 are comparable to other top smartphones on the market. The U.S. version sports the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 processor as the HTC One and LG Optimus Pro G.
It has all the usual sensors – Gyroscope, accelerometer, proximity – as well as that extra infrared sensor that powers the gesture-based controls. It also is said to have a barometer and humidity sensors, but I have no idea what they do or how to use them.
The Galaxy Sr’s 2600 mAh battery, biggest in a non-”phablet” smartphone, will definitely last all day and then some.
The Galaxy S4 has the same flimsy plastic removable back as other Galaxy S models. DiCarlo explained the company’s reasoning:
In terms of the material, we definitely heard the criticisms and comments. It definitely did not go unheard. Our thinking on that is that a removable battery is a good thing. If you are at CES working all day or at a concert or whatever, having an alternate battery is certainly a good thing. A lot of people still like removable memory. And a lot of our accessories allow the device to stay thin by replacing that back cover for wireless charging or whatever. There are a lot of user benefits as well as durability factor, something you can carry around with you in a case. Not to make any excuse for it, but just to explain the thinking.
Samsung’s accessories, like the flip cover back, are definitely a big reason for the removable back. So is weight. At 4.59 ounces, it is almost a half-ounce lighter than the full-metal-casing HTC One.
Even though the S4 is a little smaller than the Galaxy S3, its screen is a little bigger, growing from 4.8 inches to 5 inches. The very nice screen is HD Super Amoled, coming in at 441 pixels per inch. If anything, the colors may seem a little over saturated.
You Might Want This Smartphone, You Might Not
Samsung will sell a lot of Galaxy S4s. Consumers will like the size and shape, the screen and the camera. Developers will like the chance to play with the gesture-based controls like AirView (if they can actually get them to work). Enterprises won’t mind employees bringing the device to work with its capability to use Knox, Samsung’s mobile enterprise management solution.
Really, the Galaxy S4 is a solid smartphone, in just about every way.
You just have to put up with Samsung’s insistence on loading you down with bloatware, pre-loaded apps and features that you will likely never use and just get in the way. Once you cut through all that, the Galaxy S4 is a first rate smartphone.
View full post on ReadWrite
Twitter put months of speculation to rest this morning when it launched its own music-focused service for iOS and the Web. Twitter #Music is a standalone app for discovering, following and listening to artists that draws its intelligence from Twitter’s own user activity data. At first glance, it’s a win for artists, but the value it adds for fans remains to be seen.
First and foremost, Twitter #Music is undoubtedly good for Twitter. The app takes something that is hugely popular among consumers — music — and intimately ties it to its own service. It also integrates with Spotify and Rdio so tracks can be streamed in their entirety from within Twitter #Music. That feature, the company is betting, will keep listeners glued to the app, where much of what they do is tied to Twitter’s core functionality: tweeting songs and following artists.
Putting Artists Front and Center
For artists, the potential advantages here are huge. At every turn, Twitter #Music encourages you to follow bands and musicians, which of course can lead to longterm engagement and even sales. Whether they’re already trending or Twitter thinks you might like them (based on your existing follows), this app puts artists and their Twitter handles front-and-center, never missing an opportunity to stick a “follow” button in front of the user.
Twitter #Music also lets users buy tracks directly from iTunes, which is a major plus for artists who still aren’t making all that much money from those Spotify and Rdio streams.
If widely adopted, Twitter #Music could become a potent source of exposure for up-and-coming musicians. And while there a million services that promise to enable music discovery, seldom do they directly make money for artists.
We Are Hunted, R.I.P.
Twitter #Music is built on top of the guts of We Are Hunted, a service that ranked the popularity of online music so effectively that some people wondered whether it could replace Billboard. Twitter gobbled it up to build this, and you can tell. Twitter #Music’s design is strongly reminiscent of We Are Hunted’s, even if Twitter appear to have gutted much of the service’s original functionality.
We Are Hunted’s flagship feature was its Emerging Music chart, which analyzed a wide range of data signals to determine what music was most popular online. Twitter #Music appears to replace that more complex algorithm with something that more heavily favors Twitter’s own data. That’s not surprising, but it makes for a less thorough analysis and for music fans, a less useful experience.
In the process of launching this new product, Twitter also appears to have gutted some of We Are Hunted’s core recommendation technology in favor of a more Twitter-centric approach. Whereas We Are Hunted used a complex array of data to associate artist to one another, Twitter #Music appears to be relying heavily (if not exclusively) on data about the relationship between artists on the service, such as who follows who. When I look at The Flaming Lips on Twitter’s new service, it recommends Taylor Swift. Really?
Do We Need This?
With We Are Hunted effectively neutered and Twitter entering the digital music space with a big splash, the big question remains: How useful is this new app for users?
It depends. Let’s consider Twitter #Music’s key selling points: You can discover music that’s popular on Twitter, get new music recommendations and listen to it all within the app. Those are all useful things, although to varying degrees.
The music-listening part is only really worthwhile to those of us who pay for premium Spotify or Rdio accounts. Otherwise, we’re left with a mere iTunes snippet and the option to buy the whole track. And if you do have Rdio or Spotify, you’re going to continue to use those services’ apps for the majority of your listening. Listening to music isn’t the main draw of Twitter #Music, just a very nice touch.
The most compelling aspect of the app is Twitter’s data about artists, songs and the social relationships between them. If you can get over the fact that We Are Hunted pulled in much more data and was thus much more interesting, this is useful, especially if you happen to be active on Twitter.
Where Twitter-Based Music Discovery Fails
But just being a voracious tweeter isn’t enough. As many users have pointed out, the “Me” and “Suggested” tabs of the app are of limited value if you don’t follow a lot of musicians on Twitter. Indeed, using Twitter follows as a barometer for one’s music taste is a curious choice. Sometimes musicians have worthwhile Twitter accounts, sometimes not.
Either way, most people probably don’t follow all the artists they like. Unlike the Facebook “like”, the Twitter “follow” is not an explicit statement saying “I enjoy listening to this band.” Instead, it’s saying, “I think this band, whose music I happen to enjoy, might have interesting things to say, so I’m listening.”
Of course, if you’re not following a lot of artists, that’s something Twitter #Music is explicitly designed to change. But out of the box, this is a real handicap for some users.
It’s also worth mentioning that at launch, Twitter #Music only appears to acknowledge verified artist accounts, at least as far as the “Me” tab is concerned. When I click on my own profile, it shows eight bands that I follow. There are certainly more artists that I follow, but they’re less well-known and thus have no official designation from Twitter. As a result, they are presumably not factored into my recommendations.
Personally, I’m not all that interested in what music is generally popular on Twitter. You mean to tell me that lots of people are listening to Psy, P!nk and Maroon 5? No kidding! The “Emerging” tab is a bit more interesting, as this is where a hidden gem or two is bound to surface.
The other tabs are more personalized, and thus likely to be more relevant to users. It’s not clear exactly what kind of data is fueling he “Suggested” tab, but it does a reasonably decent job of recommending artists. Many of its suggestions are spot-on. Some are questionable. It’s not terrible, but it could be better. I’ve tested a lot of services that utilize music recommendation engines.
For my money, algorithms like the ones behind Pandora, Last.fm and the Echo Nest do a much better job of making music suggestions than this app does. Twitter #Music is also competing against beloved and impressive music recommendation apps like Shuffler.fm and Hype Machine.
On the whole, Twitter #Music is a decent app. If you like music enough to subscribe to a streaming service and are interested in finding new music, this is a pretty good, social-fueled way to do it. If your tastes are more particular and nuanced, tools with more complex algorithms and granular data points are likely to be more useful to you. Either way, it’s worth taking it for a spin.
View full post on ReadWrite
Study: U.K. Mobile Search Survey Reveals U.K. Consumers In Less Of A Hurry To Make Purchases Than U.S. Mobile Users
Mobile-location based advertising network xAd joined forces with mobile call measurement provider Telmetrics to release their first U.K. Mobile Path-to-Purchase study, focusing on U.K. mobile search behavior. Conducted by Nielsen, the online study, surveyed 1,500 U.K. smartphone and tablet users to…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
If you wanted to go to Google I/O this year, chances are you are out of luck.
Tickets for Google’s developer’s conference, May 15-17 in San Francisco, went on sale this morning. Less than an hour later, they were gone.
The process was marred by long digital queues and some problems with Google processing payments for some would-be attendees. Tickets went on sale at 10 a.m. ET today. By 10:48 a.m., Google was notifying people that the event has sold out.
As Google enthusiasts are known to do, they took to the company’s social network Google+ to vent their frustration.
Google sells tickets to I/O for $900 for general admission and $300 for faculty and students. The high price of admission apparently didn’t scare anybody away.
The conference is Google’s biggest event of the year. The company typically introduces the new flavor of Android (expected to be called Key Lime Pie this year), developer and manufacturer tools, improvements to its search algorithm and more. Google has also started using I/O to introduce new devices such as it did last year with the Nexus 7 Android tablet and the ill-fated Nexus Q.
Did you get a ticket to Google I/O? Or were you one of the thousands left in the lurch? Let us know in the comments.
View full post on ReadWrite
Large numbers of people believe that the majority of mobile search activity happens “on the go.” However according to an extensive new study from Google and Nielsen, the overwhelming majority (77 percent) of mobile search happens at home or work — even when there’s a PC nearby and readily…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Melbourne SEO Strategists Reveal How Businesses Earn More By Working Less … – DigitalJournal.com (press release)
Melbourne SEO Strategists Reveal How Businesses Earn More By Working Less …
DigitalJournal.com (press release)
Leading Melbourne SEO strategists, Melbourne SEO Services, have announced the dates of their highly limited internet workshop for businesses, which focuses on two key areas: outsourcing work and capturing more traffic. The seminars will be lead by …
View full post on SEO – Google News
Entrepreneurs: This is the time to disrupt a market. Those holding out for a better market conditions are bypassing the opportunity of a lifetime.
Granted, two countervailing trends –- a slowly recovering national economy and a pull-back in later early-stage funding — are keeping things interesting for entrepreneurs. But at the same time, stubborn recession conditions like cheap office space and tech trends like cloud computing temper the need for big piles of outside money to get new companies off the ground.
This infographic comes from Bob Rizika, CEO of cloud computing, Infrastructure-as-a Service (IaaS) firm ProfitBricks USA, who obviously hopes lean startups see an advantage in operating in the cloud. The key points are that creating a startup now is cheaper than ever before, there are new sources of funding available, and the lingering economic issues can reduce competition:
View full post on ReadWrite