Posts tagged much

Is the self-driving car just too much for Apple?

apple-autonomous-car

Earlier reports of a potential shift in focus at Apple’s self-driving car division, from hardware to software and services, have been confirmed by anonymous sources speaking to the Associated Press.

While the article doesn’t declare the iCar—the name chosen by most onlookers for Apple’s car—dead, it does suggest the iPhone maker is more open to collaboration with automakers.

See Also: Did Apple miss the mark on innovation this week?

The division has seen a few key changes and talent hires in the past 12 months. Apple veteran Bob Mansfield has taken over operations and Dan Dodge, the founder of operating system QNX, joined sometime in the past six months.

QNX is the operating system that powers a considerable amount of car infotainment systems. Apple is keen to expand in that area, after unveiling CarPlay last year.

AP’s source gives the impression the team wasn’t worried about the difficulty of building an automobile at the start, but as development grew, the issues started to become more visible. The automobile industry is highly regulated as well, another factor that soured Apple’s car goals.

A hardware business that Apple wants to leave?

The report says Apple might look to license the software to automakers, though that seems unlikely. Apple’s scripture declares that it must build the hardware, software, and services to provide a meaningful experience.

A more likely arrangement would be Apple partnering with a specific automaker that manufactures the car, following Apple’s design instructions. This would be a similar arrangement Apple has with Foxconn, which manufactures the iPhone and iPad.

Apple would then stuff the car with a self-driving system and infotainment and sell it.

Another option, one that might be prudent now that the European Union and other organizations are looking into Apple’s tax structure, could be an automotive acquisition.

It has enough money to purchase Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo and still have $75 billion on hand, if you take the three company’s market cap and add 10 percent. Apple hasn’t been the biggest spender in Silicon Valley however, so it would be a grand statement of where it’s future profits lie if it made a huge purchase in the next few years.

The post Is the self-driving car just too much for Apple? appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Customers love fitness trackers, but smartwatches? Not so much.

fitbit-charge-hr

A trend is starting to appear, fitness trackers sales continue to rise, while smartwatches start to dwindle. IDC’s second quarter wearable sales report continues the trend, revealing a 48 percent rise in basic wearables and a 27 percent decline in smart wearables.

Fitbit retained the top spot in the wearables market. It sold 5.7 million fitness trackers in Q2, a 28 percent year-on-year (YOY) growth. Xiaomi also retained its second place, but only had 2.5 percent growth YOY.

See Also: Report says Rio athletes want more out of their wearables

Apple, the only company in the top five that only sells ‘smart wearables’, noticed a significant decline in wearable sales. Sales dropped from 3.6 million in the same quarter last year to 1.6 million this year, a 56 percent downturn.

Similar declines seem to be happening across the board for smart wearable manufacturers. None of the Android Wear manufacturers made it into the top five, losing to Chinese health wearable provider Lifesense, which sold one million units.

“Basic wearables, which include most fitness trackers, have benefited from a combination of factors: a clear value proposition for end-users, an abundant selection of devices from multiple vendors, and affordable price points,” said IDC’s Research Manager for Wearables Ramon Llamas in a statement.

Are smartwatches trying too hard?

Most of the smart wearables have tried to become catch-all devices, lumping fitness tracking, notifications, the web, and even phone calls into one device. The experiences haven’t always been excellent, but companies like Apple and Samsung hope that updates to hardware and software will entice more customers.

Fitbit showed at IFA 2016 that it’s not interested in becoming a smartwatch provider, launching the Charge 2 and Flex 2, two fitness trackers that retain most of the qualities of their predecessors.

Garmin and TomTom, two GPS giants, are also turning to the wearable market with ‘basic wearables’ that offer GPS and fitness tracking. Garmin made it into the top five, with 1.6 million sales, a 106 percent YOY improvement—looks like they have a winning formula!

The post Customers love fitness trackers, but smartwatches? Not so much. appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Are police body cameras collecting too much data?

taser-police-body-cameras

Police body cameras are starting to become a necessity to stop the surge in complaints from U.S. citizens, who want law enforcement to be more accountable and reduce the violence committed by officers.

In Rialto, California, a study by Barak Ariel, a experimental criminology lecturer at the University of Cambridge showed that body cameras reduce complaints by 87 percent and use of force dropped by 59 percent.

See Also: Netatmo knocks on doors and windows with Welcome

Even with this huge drop in animosity between law enforcement and citizens in the city, Taser, the creator of the body cameras, believes there is more to be done to make the system better and more efficient.

Trevin Chow, director of product management at Taser, said that smart technology is necessary to sift through the massive amounts of data being accumulated by all of the police cameras.

Speaking at the Wearable Technologies show in San Francisco, Chow revealed that Taser stores 3.5 petabytes (one million gigabytes) of data and a file is uploaded every 12 seconds to its database. That’s with only 30 cities in the U.S. adopting the camera tech.

For this data to be useful, Taser needs to create systems to single out issues that need addressing. It has plans to trigger cameras to take videos when a police officer steps outside a car, removes a shotgun from the rack, or turns a Taser on, which should provide law enforcement overseers with indications of action in the field.

Taser is also working on machine learning and language processing programs to make recognizing excessive use of force or aggressive interactions with the public even easier for overseers.

“We’re investing in more than just a camera. We’re looking at computer vision, natural language processing, and machine transcription to really look at this area, to see how effective we can make these solutions. We need to offer more than cameras to make communities safer,” said Chow at the event.

It is a difficult balance for law enforcement between reducing incidents involving excessive use of tasers and police brutality, and making officers feel like they’re the bad guys. Cameras seem like a good way forward, but the future Taser is proposing might be too much for some in the force.

The post Are police body cameras collecting too much data? appeared first on ReadWrite.

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Do you really know how much you’re bidding?

Columnist Frederick Vallaeys shares a handy AdWords script that generates a spreadsheet of your base bids with the actual min and max possible values based on your various bid modifiers.

The post Do you really know how much you’re bidding? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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Why technical seo is so much more than just ‘make-up’

Technical SEO is vitally important it is for your website, and provides the foundations for an effective search strategy. 

I was prompted to write this article having read a post on the subject this week, written by Clayburn Griffin.

The author of that article doesn’t seem to value technical SEO so much. He says that “Technical SEO is easy, breezy, beautiful, but it’s no game-changer.” For me, this falls a long way from explaining what technical SEO actually is, and how important it is for your website.

In my role I will help clients with a huge range of SEO issues, and a large majority of those technical in nature. These can range from an erroneous implementation of hreflang or JSON-LD to helping a client target territories with no ISO country code – where GEO IP would only get you ~60% accuracy and browser location isn’t an option.

As an SEO who specialises in technical SEO, for me it is more of a process than a set of “esoteric skills” – although those skills do come in handy – it is about working with the clients needs, the developers needs and coming up with creative solutions for SEO, as it is not always possible to implement best practices.

The world without tech SEO

At the core, the assertion of the post is: Technical SEO can tart your site up for search engines, but won’t bring in the money.

And it is this assertion that I would like to challenge most vehemently, taking four examples from the technical SEO world.

1. Botched migration

We’ve all been there. A client is going through a migration but doesn’t want to shell out for a full service, saying “Our development team has done loads of these.” Only to watch from the side-lines as some fairly basic errors cost them all of their visibility, and only then to be asked for your help to fix it.

There is so much technically that can go wrong in a migration;

  • No 301 mapping
  • .htaccess rules not written correctly/efficiently
  • Staging environment gets indexed
  • Staging robots.txt or meta robots data brought over to live
  • Different versions of PHP/Apache/jQuery between environments

I could go on, but the point is without technical SEO any one of these numerous issues could kill your site dead, overnight.

site migration finance

2. Faceted search

This is a common technical SEO problem for anyone working with ecommerce. How to deal with your faceted navigation.

  • Are you creating duplicate content?
  • Should you use canonicals or noindex in robots.txt?
  • If so, where and which ones?
  • Which faceted navs can be indexed and which should not?
  • Rel prev/next on pagination or canonicals?
  • Add more facets or remove?
  • How should url re-writing be handled?
  • How many products per page?
  • Do your facets mirror your IA?

These are just some of the questions that come up for just this aspect of the site, and there is no definitive correct answer to them all; you can’t just check Google’s guidelines.

The answers to these questions change with every site, its needs and its current visibility.

3. Hreflang implementation

Here’s one for anyone who has gone international. Hreflang is not the simplest thing to implement and is often done incorrectly. People forget to self-reference, use the wrong codes, use incomplete codes, miss just one territory from their list, don’t include all versions of the page or simply forget to regularly audit their implementation.

Any one of those mistakes can break the entire implementation and leave you with duplicating content and rapidly falling rankings.

4. Optimising page load

This is perhaps one of the most all-encompassing technical issues an SEO can deal with. It is also one of the most frequently overlooked and poorly addressed; due in part to the wide range of skills required to fully address it, but also due to the cost of a lot of the solutions.

I always find this surprising as an old study from Amazon.com found that for every 100ms they improved page load their conversion rate increased by 1%!! It doesn’t take a genius to work out that’s a whole load of extra PlayStations getting sold at Christmas.

Page load speed can be effected from simple things like large image sizes, too many HTTP requests and multiple DNS lookups all the way to poorly configured servers, inefficient or badly curated code.

Truly improving page load speed could, and has, required completely rebuilding a website. Re-platforming, migrating subdomains and servers. And at every step of the way there are serious technical SEO considerations that must be made.

What is technical SEO?

Technical SEO, for me, is the science of search. It is bringing together what you know and testing it. Google won’t always tell you the truth about what works best, and may not necessarily know themselves.

You have to pore through technical specifications, stack exchange and webmaster central as well as conducting your own experiments and testing what you know.

More practically it is not just about going through the same tired checklist of robots.txt, 301 redirects and pipes vs hyphens, but about working with all other elements of a broader SEO strategy and with the client’s development, marketing, senior management and web teams to present the best possible version of their site to the world.

I do agree with some points in the article though. For one, there are plenty of people and agencies who say they can understand technical SEO and can help you with it, only to come unstuck when someone asks them the best solution for becoming mobile friendly.

And this does no favours for those of us still trying desperately to get away from the image of snake-oil salesmen and spammy, shoddy tactics.

However, without technical SEO your site will not rank for your keywords on Google. I agree that it should always be part of a broader SEO strategy encompassing content and offsite optimisation. It’s far more than mere make-up.

Image credit: PI Datametrics

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