Posts tagged many
While you are reading these lines, SEO’s death is probably chronicled in hundreds of articles all over the internet. A simple search on Google for “SEO is dead” generates no less than 42,600,000 results. Before we decide whether SEO is dead or not, we need to clarify what SEO really means. There are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding what SEO is about, which leads people on the wrong track. If for instance, you think SEO is about tricking search engines, linking schemes, and web spam then yes, SEO is dead. In a few words, SEO refers to the process of influencing […]
The post The Many “Deaths” of #SEO Before 2015 by @cognitiveSEO appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
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Local search marketing can be a challenge for franchisees, but columnist Rachel Lindteigen has some tips.
The post The Franchise Challenge: How Do You Stand Out When You’re One Of Many? appeared first on Search Engine Land.
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According to a voice search study commissioned by Google, the most smartphone-obsessed teens are using voice search every day. However many adults feel self-conscious or embarrassed when they talk to their smartphones. The study found that 45 percent of US adults said they felt “like a…
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When text messaging first spread, we got 160-character texts. Then multimedia messaging added photos to the mix—if you were lucky and your carrier supported it.
The skyrocketing popularity of messaging apps around the world signals a shift in the way we communicate. Now we can share more than a simple thought rendered in text. We can share cartoon characters, disappearing selfies, our current location—even our phone’s battery life. The new Apple Watch’s forthcoming messaging app has us imagine a world where we tell our loved ones we’re alive in a literal yet visceral way—by sharing our heartbeat.
The variety of messaging apps makes it hard to pick just one and stick to it. Just look at how teens have jumped from Twitter and Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat.
With jaw-dropping amounts of money being ponied up by investors and acquirers—like Facebook spending $19 billion on WhatsApp—entrepreneurs are racing to get ahead of the next big trend, with the hopes of amassing users and then big paychecks.
The Next Big Thing will likely not be one messaging app, but many. Developers have begun to shift from do-it-all messengers with every imaginable feature to apps that embrace simplicity—and do just one kind of communication very well.
A Messenger’s First Job: Replacing Texts
Messaging stalwarts like WhatsApp and WeChat took traditional messaging features from SMS, the wireless-carrier standard for text messaging, and expanded on them to provide users with a way to communicate while avoiding texting fees.
SMS is unlikely to go away soon, but it lacks many key features. That’s what prompts so many users to seek out apps to replace it. The 160-character limit of standard SMS is just one example of its limitations.
In most parts of the world, texting is expensive. The unlimited-texting plans available in the US are relatively uncommon elsewhere. International texting is particularly pricey. So apps like WhatsApp take advantage of data plans and Wi-Fi connections to take regular texting and make it cheaper.
Especially in global markets, such apps have skyrocketed in popularity. As ReadWrite reported earlier this year, your geographic location might dictate which apps you use. In Asia, WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk are among the most popular, whereas in North America it’s WhatsApp and Kik.
Disappearing Messages Are Here To Stay
Snapchat is largely credited with kicking off the disappearing messages trend, but it’s not the only app out there. As soon as Snapchat exploded on the scene, Internet players both small and large—including Facebook—fell over themselves to replicate the features that drove Snapchat’s growth.
Messages are now disappearing everywhere, and even if they don’t technically disappear on Snapchat, people are still increasingly expecting an option for messaging that won’t go down on their permanent records. The incidents of celebrity’s iCloud accounts getting hacked is just another reason consumers want their selfies to disappear. Whether it’s a selfie on Snapchat or a secure document on Wickr, sending and receiving messages that don’t stick around have become a central part of the way people communicate.
The Yo Effect
Yo cofounder Moshe Hogeg claims is a great way for letting someone know that you’re thinking of them, and the app has spawned a handful of copycats, including one called “Hodor” that riffs on Game of Thrones, the popular book series turned HBO show. ReadWrite’s Lauren Orsini describes how you can make your own Yo clone.
But it’s not the message that matters. It’s the medium. Specifically, it’s how Yo’s “yos” arrive as push notifications, rather than another message in an overcrowded inbox. Eventually, we might Yo our devices, not just our friends. A slew of recipes on IFTTT can connect with your smart home. Yo, thermostat, turn up the heat!
The Walkie-Talkie, Reinvented
I remember running around the yard playing with walkie-talkies when I was a kid. When I grew up, I started using Voxer to keep in touch with friends and family. Even though I regularly ignore voicemails, I’m always anxious to check the voice messages my sister leaves me through the app.
Voice messaging is also a feature of Path Talk, the social network’s spinoff messaging app, and many do-it-all messaging apps feature the ability to send audio recordings.
Apple is even getting on board with this trend. In iOS 8, the company introduced a new voice messaging feature that lets you send friends audio messages through iMessage.
Those tiny, cartoon-like icons you now see everywhere are the cave drawings of the 21st century.
Emoji originated in Japan in the late ’90s as colorful adaptations of standard chat emoticons like the “:)” smiley. Eventually emoji became a standard part of the online alphabet—literally incorporated into the Unicode standard. It was only a matter of time before we got a chat app based exclusively on emoji.
Emoj.li wants to be a way to keep in contact with your friends using only emoji icons. In fact, you don’t even have a name attached to your account when you sign up.
Other messaging apps seek to differentiate themselves—and sometimes make money—through custom emoji sets.
Have you ever wanted to let your friend know you were running late, but were unable to text them? Thanks to ambient location services, it will soon be possible to message your friends without, well, messaging them.
Social networks like Facebook and Foursquare’s Swarm have adopted ambient services as way for friends to know the general area of one another without telling each other outright. But Path’s new messaging app takes that one step further.
Path Talk, the standalone messaging app Path released in June, is a way for people to share information with friends like “in transit,” or “listening to music,” without actively inputting that information.
Critics of ambient location think it’s creepy and potentially invasive, but apps are quick to point out that these services are opt-in, so you have complete control of who can see where you are and what you’re doing.
It’s impossible to predict what new feature is going to appeal to people in the long run. While apps like Yo are fun to play with, they’re also easy to ditch for another app your friends are on. The more permanent message they deliver is how they’ve present us with a new way of communicating.
It’s up to us to explore these new worlds messaging apps create. In the race to become the most popular way to communicate, some startup will inevitably create the messenger we never knew we wanted—until we found it.
Illustrations by Madeleine Weiss for ReadWrite
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You don’t know me. You may not even know I exist. More importantly, I don’t know you. I am the voice of your company. Sounds crazy, right? But that’s often the way it works. If you aren’t a giant company with the resources to hire, train, and maintain an internal content/social media department, it makes sense to outsource to digital marketing companies…who hire freelance writers. In some respects, it’s a great system. You get a full-time professional writer without paying a full-time salary and writers get to work in their bunny slippers. Since writing is a creative process that happens […]
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Twitter Reveals How Many Active Users Are Bots, The Number May Be Higher Than You Think by @mattsouthern
Twitter revealed how many of its monthly active users are bots in a report just filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The report indicates that as much as 8.5 percent of Twitter’s monthly active users are bots. A bot is a small, data-collecting software application. Bots are completely automated and involve no human interaction. This sheds some light on a problem Twitter has with bots posing as human accounts. This is a problem because businesses rely on the accuracy of their audience numbers to estimate their true reach. The report states how bot counts are calculated “Our metrics are also […]
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Apple told developers Monday afternoon that many of their older Mac applications may not run in the next update to Mac OS X unless they “re-sign” them using a digital-signature tool in OS X 10.9 Mavericks, the current version of the Mac operating system. Many developers aren’t happy about the abrupt change:
The change affects all Mac applications built on older versions of Mac OS X—specifically, any version that predates Mavericks, which officially launched last October. As of the next release of the desktop operating system—that’ll be OS X 10.9.5—those apps may simply no longer function until their digital signatures are updated using a tool in Mavericks. (These apps also may not function in future versions of OS X, including beta versions of OS X 10.10 Yosemite.)
Update, 6:56pm PT: Programs with older digital signatures may simply trigger a security warning for users. At least, that’s the gist of an explanation that Apple apparently sent to developers earlier on Wednesday, per this report in the The Unofficial Apple Weblog:
Signatures created with OS X Mountain Lion 10.8.5 or earlier (v1 signatures) will be obsoleted and Gatekeeper will no longer recognize them. Users may receive a Gatekeeper warning and will need to exempt your app to continue using it. To ensure your apps will run without warning on updated versions of OS X, they must be signed on OS X Mavericks 10.9 or later (v2 signatures).
A large number of common apps could be affected by the change; see below for details.
Sign Me Up
Apple requires developers to digitally “sign” their applications, ostensibly for security reasons. Signing an app vouchsafes it as the creation of a given developer, and lets the Mac operating system detect any changes to its underlying code. (Apple explains the process in more detail in its official code-signing guide.)
Pre-Mavericks versions of OS X used an older code-signing technology that produced what Apple calls “version 1″ signatures. OS X 10.9.5 and future OS X versions will require “version 2″ signatures, which require the use of the “codesign” tool within Mavericks.
It’s not clear how much time developers have to re-sign their older applications. Apple hasn’t said when Mavericks 10.9.5 will launch; it just released the first 10.9.5 beta last Wednesday.
Caught In The Digital Dragnet
If developers don’t act quickly, large numbers of common apps could be affected. Developer John Bafford published a command-line script on GitHub Gist that identifies the signature version of all programs in a Mac’s applications folder. It looks like this, in case you’re curious:
I ran the command on my Mac and found almost 50 applications with version 1 signatures, including Apple’s iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes, Numbers, Pages and Keynote. Other affected programs include Microsoft Office 2011, Adobe Reader, Dropbox, Google Chrome, Firefox and Evernote. (Oh, and Minecraft, too.)
I don’t have many apps from smaller developer teams on my machine, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find lots of them with version 1 signatures. What’s more, big companies have the resources to re-sign and update their apps well in advance of the release of OS X 10.9.5; smaller developers may be much harder pressed to do that in time.
I pinged Apple PR for further explanation of the announcement, and will update if I hear back.
Lead image by Flickr user ishmael daro, CC 2.0
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Does locality have an effect on SERP ranking? Not always, but when it does we should be mindful of the best choices to make to achieve the best ranking possible.
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At its Worldwide Developer Conference last week, Apple announced its new programming language Swift. It’s the latest in a rash of new languages developed by big tech companies, in some cases for specific use with their own platforms.
This rash of new languages raises a number of issues for developers. Perhaps the most significant is one my colleague Adriana Lee raised after Apple’s Swift announcement:
(How many languages are devs supposed to learn?)
— Adriana Lee (@adra_la) June 2, 2014
A Computer-Language Babel
There are already hundreds of programming languages in existence, and more are popping into existence all the time. Many are designed for use in a relatively narrow range of applications, and large numbers never catch on beyond small groups of coders.
Similarly, big tech companies have been developing new languages for about as long as there have been big tech companies. The seminal general-purpose language C originated at AT&T Bell Labs in the early 1970s. Java, now the primary language for development of Android apps, was born at Sun Microsystems in the 1990s.
What’s different these days is the extent to which companies embrace new languages to further their specific business objectives—a process that also has the effect of creating a dedicated base of developers who are effectively “locked in” to a company’s particular platform. That sort of dual strategy dates back at least to Sun’s introduction of Java, which the company promoted as a way to challenge Microsoft’s dominance on the PC desktop. (Things didn’t work out the way Sun planned, although Java eventually found a home in enterprise middleware systems before Google adopted it for Android.)
It’s also clearly Apple’s goal with Swift. Should it live up to the company’s early hype, Swift seems likely to simplify iOS app development by filing the rough edges off Objective-C, the current lingua franca of iOS and Mac OS X developers. But it will also require those same developers to learn the ins and outs of a new language that they’re unlikely to use anywhere else.
Why Companies Roll Their Own
Which cuts against the ingrained “don’t reinvent the wheel” philosophy that animates most developers. So why don’t more companies just adopt already existing languages to new uses?
One answer is simply that companies build their own languages because they can. Designing a new language can be complex, but it’s not particularly resource-intensive. What’s hard is building support for it, both in terms of providing software resources (shared code libraries, APIs, compilers, documentation and so forth) and winning the hearts and minds of developers. Companies are uniquely positioned to do both.
There’s also the fact that existing languages are often difficult to shoehorn into today’s complex code frameworks. Take, for instance, Facebook’s decision to create Hack, a superset of the scripting language PHP that’s commonly used in Web development.
Facebook’s main goal with Hack—a common one these days—was to improve code reliability, in this case by enforcing data-type checking before a program is executed. Such checks ensure that a program won’t, say, try to interpret an integer as a string of characters, an error that could yield unpredictable results if not caught. In Hack, those checks take place in advance so that programmers can identify such errors long before their code goes live.
According to Julien Verlaguet, a core developer on Facebook’s Hack team, the company first looked for an an existing language that might allow for more efficient programming. But much of Facebook was already built on PHP, and the company has built up a substantial software infrastructure to support PHP and its offshoots. While it’s possible to make PHP work with code written in a different language, it’s not easy—nor is it fast.
“Let’s say I try to rewrite our PHP codebase in Scala,” Verlaguet said. “It’s a well designed, beautiful language, but it’s not at all compatible with PHP. Everytime I need to call to PHP from the Scala part of the code base, I’ll lose performance speed. We would have liked to use an existing language but for us, it just wasn’t an option.”
Instead, Facebook invented Hack, which has enough in common with PHP that it can share the company’s existing infrastructure. The vast majority of the Facebook codebase has been migrated from PHP to Hack, said Verlaguet, but the company has open sourced the language in hopes that independent developers will find uses for it outside of Facebook.
“You can still use PHP,” he said. “But we’re hoping you’ll want to use Hack.”
Who Holds The Power
Therein lies the balance of power between companies and developers. Companies can make their languages as specific as they like. But if developers don’t want to use them, nobody is going to—outside, that is, of anyone who might harbor hopes of one day working at the company that invented the language.
It’s not unusual for companies to make it easiest to develop in one language over another. For example, you would use Objective-C to develop iOS apps, but Java to develop Android apps. This has never been a major sticking point with developers because both Objective-C and Java are general purpose object-oriented languages. They’re useful for a number of purposes.
Hack, Dart, Go, and Swift, however, so far have only proven useful for particular company-designated programming solutions, usually in tandem with that company’s programming environment of choice. Granted, it may be too soon to judge. Hack, for example, can be used in several back-end implementations; it’s just so new that Facebook doesn’t yet have any data that people want to use it that way.
It’s not that developers aren’t capable of learning multiple languages. Most already do. Think of them like the Romance languages—if you know Spanish, it’ll be easier to learn French and so on than if you didn’t already know one. Likewise, if you already know Java, it’ll be easier to learn Ruby or Perl. And if you know PHP, you basically already know Hack.
On the contrary, it’s more of a question of habit. If Java already solves your specific problems, you don’t have any incentive to learn Ruby. And if you are happy coding iOS apps in Objective-C, you’re not going to feel very tempted to pick up Swift.
To some developers, though, ecosystem-specific languages just make life harder for everybody. Freelance designer Jack Watson-Hamblin, for instance, told me that initiatives like Apple’s Swift risk overburdening programmers and fragmenting the developer community:
It’s important for programmers to know multiple languages, but forcing them to keep up with new languages all the time doesn’t make sense. If I’m making a simple cross-platform app, I don’t want to have to know four languages to do it. I only want to use the single-purpose language if I really need to.
Watson-Hamblin argues that when companies each build their own language for their own needs, it slows down overall progress both by dividing the attention of coders and by enforcing a monolithic perspective on development within that language. “When companies are in charge of a language vs. an open-source community, it’s like the difference between a corporation and a start-up,” he said. Communities are more flexible and adaptive by definition.
Of course, Apple had a lot of very good reasons to start from scratch with Swift, just as Facebook did when it invented Hack. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to force change on developers—some of it doubtless unwelcome.
“As new languages are invented, it gets more hegemonic,” said Verlaguet. “It can be frustrating to have to keep up. But on the other hand, you’re more likely to have a new language to fit your exact problem. Imagine the reverse—a world where programmers used the same language for everything. It’d be a language that could do everything poorly but nothing well.”
Lead image by Flickr user Ruiwen Chua, CC 2.0
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