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The smart home, an Internet of Things movement to connect your household appliances, has an ironic problem: communication. Numerous approaches, platforms and standards have sprung up to thoroughly confuse consumers, making it difficult to know which devices can actually talk to each other.
Google-owned smart thermostat company Nest and its band of partners—Samsung Electronics, Yale Security, Silicon Labs, Freescale Semiconductor, computer processor licensing company ARM and ceiling fan maker Big Ass Fans—think they have a way to make things easier. The companies have joined forces to announce the formation of Thread, a non-profit group established to promote a new wireless networking protocol for the smart home.
The main difference between Thread and other types of smart homes is the technology at its foundation. Although it uses IPv6, an Internet protocol that identifies devices on a network, it doesn’t communicate over Wi-Fi or even Bluetooth. Thread uses 802.15.4, a short-range standard that draws very little power. And for gadgets that use it, such as ZigBee—a common smart home wireless specification— or 6LowPAN, support does not require any changes in hardware. Manufacturers that use ZigBee can make their devices Thread-compliant through a software update. That means even existing gadgets can support Thread. (Nest thermostats already come with a version of Thread support baked in.)
Consumers may be uniquely interested in Thread’s mesh networking capabilities. With a mesh network, a smart home wouldn’t require a hub as the intermediary between home devices. That means a glitch in the central hub or a glitchy Wi-Fi network won’t take down your entire smart home. Your devices would still be able to connect with each other, to kick on lights, turn on speakers or unlock your door when you arrive home.
According to Nest’s Chris Boross, president of Thread, the group aims to solve the interoperability quandary. Plus, Thread uses very little energy and offers tight security, “connecting up to 250 devices” and sealing them using “banking-class encryption.” Security’s a key issue, considering consumer fears over security could hinder smart home adoption. The other is clarity: By seeing Thread compliance listed, consumers could have an easier way to identify devices that work together.
The battle for wireless standards in the smart home of the future has become intense in 2014. The Open Internet Consortium vows to create the one true wireless standard, with Samsung, Dell and Intel at the fore. So does the AllSeen Alliance, with 51 members led by Qualcomm. The Industrial Internet Consortium features the likes of AT&T and General Electric. Large companies like Samsung belong to several of these industry groups, hedging bets to see which standard emerges on top.
It’s a different approach than Apple’s attempt to unify devices. Whether it’s better, however, isn’t clear. Apple’s HomeKit protocol doesn’t inherently restrict itself to certain technologies. Meanwhile Thread works primarily with ZigBee devices, leaving out the other two major smart home specifications, Z-Wave and Insteon, as well as numerous other Wi-Fi-only appliances. That means thousands of products are left out of this loop. So much for communication.
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Google took major steps last week to boost adoption of Android L, the latest version of its mobile operating system. In fact, the company did something it has never done before: It released a developer preview.
Since the beginning, Google’s approach to major Android releases followed roughly the same format. The announcement typically involved a partner making a Nexus flagship reference device, with the newest version of the platform shipping to developers and other manufacturers so they could build apps and devices for it.
This process actually slowed adoption by consumers, manufacturers and developers. After Google announced a new version, it often took companies such as HTC and Samsung as long as three to six months to build new devices for it, or ship software updates for older phones and tablets. Meanwhile, developers hesitated to build apps optimized for it because so few consumers had the latest version.
For instance, the latest version of Android—version 4.4, dubbed “KitKat”—was announced eight months ago, on October 31, 2013. Since then, only 13.6% of Android devices that touch Google’s servers run KitKat. In comparison, 14.9% of devices run Android 2.3 Gingerbread, which was announced in December of 2010.
Now with Android L, developers and manufacturers will have the entire summer to get apps, smartphones and tablets ready for release when L drops this fall (presumably with a new Android Nexus device). The approach is more akin to how Apple and Microsoft release major updates for iOS and Windows Phone, respectively, and marks a major shift in strategy for Google.
So, why did Google change course and offer a developer preview months ahead of Android L’s official commercial release? Google’s head of Android engineering Dave Burke elucidated the company’s thoughts in an interview with ReadWrite at Google I/O last week.
“I think the scope of the platform got so big—and the application ecosystem got so big—that it is kind of near impossible to do a big release, and QA, and test it internally, and know you nailed it,” Burke said. “Of course, we’ve got a great QA team … but the reality is that if you launch, you’re going to break something unless you have developer feedback. We’ve just reached critical mass where we had to change the model, so myself and a couple other people were pushing strongly for this.”
Will It Increase New Android Adoption?
The biggest test for Android L’s developer preview will come in the form of rapid adoption. Will manufacturers be able to ship the new version to older phones more quickly? And will they have their brand new devices ready when Android L drops commercially, just in time for the holiday shopping season?
Historically, this hasn’t been the case. Android 4.4 was announced on Halloween 2013, and the first round of major KitKat devices didn’t come until the late winter and early spring of 2014. Previous versions of Android saw similar release patterns.
Developers and handset makers didn’t have the early access they needed for timely product roll-outs, largely because Google didn’t want to release unfinished software. “We have this challenge that, when we are developing stuff internally, we want to keep it confidential,” said Burke. “Because some of the time, you are just iterating. You are not ready to show it to the public, because you are still experimenting.”
Now, he believes the company’s new tack should expedite adoption. Partners equipped with the developer preview will be able to “move in parallel” with Google, he said. “My expectation is that L will have faster adoption than previous versions of Android.
“We’ll see, but I think it has a good chance,” he said.
Android Adoption Rate Is Important For Developers
Android is a fragmented system by nature. Google releases the Android Open Source Project—or AOSP, the code that manufacturers use to build Android devices—for nearly every version of the operating system (except for the Android 3.0 Honeycomb update).
While the open source strategy of Android led it to be the world’s most used operating system, it also created an incredibly diverse system, fraught with hardware variations that don’t always mesh well (or sometimes at all) with the platform’s apps.
This hardware diversity creates significant problems for developers. Because, sometimes, you just need the compass to work like it says it is going to work. (You know, point to true north.) To a certain extent, hardware fragmentation will be practically impossible for Android to solve in its current open-source state. Google can try to streamline adoption of hardware standards running the most current version of the operating system with its the low-end Android One and the Android Silver project to come next year, but Silver will only affect the top of the market.
Operating system fragmentation causes a different kind of headache for developers, something that Google can address more directly with the developer preview of Android L. In Android, certain technologies are not supported in older versions of the operating system—such as advances in Bluetooth Low Energy and Near Field Communication (NFC). For instance, if a developer wants to support Bluetooth LE in an app, that developer’s potential user base will be severely limited by the number of Android devices that are actually equipped with the technology.
Android L could help ease many of these issues—that is, if the developer preview succeeds in speeding up adoption cycles for new Android smartphones and operating system upgrades.
If you add up everything that is in Android L—including the new material design for streamlined user experience across apps and devices, the Android One reference design project, and the developer preview that lets manufacturers and developers catch up to Google—the company has added a lot to Android while also simplifying it for everybody. Or, at least, that’s what the company hopes.
“The thing that I observed is that, early in Android, people [manufacturers] went way off, and now everything has become tighter,” Burke said. “People are really starting to appreciate simplicity. Keep it simple and don’t get in the way of the user. It is just like a learning process that the industry is going through and it is just a learning process. It is great to see.”
All images by ReadWrite
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Posted by EricaMcGillivray
The countdown to
MozCon—July 14-16 in Seattle—is on! We’ve finalized the agenda and our speaker selection, put in our swag orders, and choreographed happy dances for Roger. We’re also counting down as ticket sales speed up and are getting closer to selling out. That means:
For the best MozCon deal, make sure you
take a 30-day free trial and register as a Moz Subscriber. If our software’s not for you, cancel at anytime, and we’ll still look forward to seeing you at MozCon.
To get you a little more excited, we’re sharing these seven future-forward videos from talks from our past two MozCons. This is the first time that these videos have been available for free! That’s right, all-new content just for you because we love you.
If each of these videos doesn’t make you a little more happy to be part of this industry, thrilled to dive into your work, and overly-eager to attend MozCon yourself, then I suggest some
cat video therapy.
1. Building a Winning Video Marketing Strategy with Phil Nottingham
Want more Phil? He’ll be back on stage with “YouTube: The Most Important Search Engine You Haven’t Optimized For” this year.
You can never spend too much time thinking about your design and how to make it better.
3. Beyond 10 Blue Links: The Future of Ranking with Dr. Pete Meyers
Noted as the scariest presentation from last year, Dr. Pete takes you on a journey through the SERPs. Don’t miss his “How to Never Run Out of Great Ideas” this year.
4. 35 Ways to Get Links with Paddy Moogan
And pencils down… Paddy will be bringing his great ideas and beer challenge back this year with “Beyond SEO – Tactics for Delivering an Integrated Marketing Campaign.”
5. Next Level Local Tactics: Making Your SEO Stand Out with Dana DiTomaso
“Wow.” That’s pretty much what I thought after seeing this presentation live. Dana will be give a talk titled “Prove Your Value” this year.
6. A New Form of CRO with Joanna Lord
You’ll never look at conversion rate optimization the same way again.
7. Strings to Things: Entities and SEO with Matthew Brown
Yep, Matthew basically predicted Hummingbird before it hit Google’s Algo.
Now are you ready for MozCon?
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!
View full post on Moz Blog
“Suppose Microsoft disappeared.”
It’s quite a hypothetical, given the software giant’s piles of cash and 130,000 employees. Yet Satya Nadella lobbed it in one of his highest-profile appearances as Microsoft’s new CEO, an on-stage interview Tuesday evening at the Code Conference with veteran tech journalists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher.
“What is that sensibility that gets lost?” Nadella asked. “What is it that’s not going to be expressed?”
Asking what the world would be like without Microsoft is Nadella’s way of forcing his colleagues to define what Microsoft stands for—and to erase the stench of failure from the company’s name.
Mossberg and Swisher pressed Nadella to explain why the company had missed the massive shift to mobile computing.
“We all walk into the future with our backs to it,” said Microsoft’s poet-CEO.
Instead of dwelling on Microsoft’s mistakes, Nadella said that it was the “hunt for … that inflection point that matters more,” and said we were entering a “post-post-PC era.”
In other words, Microsoft would do better trying to discover what comes after smartphones than trying to play catch-up in that market.
He suggested that tablet computing had untapped potential—an argument which dovetails nicely with the company’s recent launch of the Surface Pro 3.
What Microsoft was good at, Nadella said, was “building platforms, and building software for productivity.” Tellingly, he didn’t say “Windows,” and he didn’t say “Office”—Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar franchises which have defined its past two decades.
Tying Microsoft’s products together and forcing groups to work in lockstep was a thing of the past. The “One Microsoft” strategy is about having a coherent offering for consumers and developers, not tying all of its products together in ways that don’t make sense. That’s why Microsoft rolled out Office for Apple’s iPad before it had a touch-interface version ready for its own Surface tablet.
“That’s no longer going to be a tactic,” Nadella said.
Translating The Future
Nadella gave a concrete glimmer of his new vision for Microsoft with the unveiling of Skype Translator, a tool for real-time translation of voice conversations. A live English-to-German demonstration ran smoothly, though Steffi Czerny, the managing director of DLD Media, panned the quality of the translation.
Still, it was a showy act of technical prowess, combining the popular Skype chat tool with the years of research and development behind Microsoft Translator, and plenty of cloud-computing resources to make it all run.
And there was a bit of a hasty quality to it that itself spoke to Microsoft’s changing ways.
Asked whether Skype Translator, which Microsoft said would be out later this year, would be free or paid, Nadella punted. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’ll figure it out.”
Nadella’s Microsoft doesn’t have all the answers, nor does it pretend to. Instead, it’s asking the right questions.
Photo by Owen Thomas for ReadWrite
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Don’t get stuck in the mire of the present and always putting out fires within your account. PPC managers need to reside in the future, past, and present simultaneously in order to get the full scope of their campaigns and optimize them successfully.
View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest
5urprise's Seo Kang Jun shares childhood photos of his flower boy past
His agency Fantagio shared the before-and-after photos of Seo Kang Jun holding up a flower in his hand when he was little and holding up his agency employee identification card as an adult. The photo comparison shows fans that he still has those …
View full post on SEO – Google News
Turkey may have banned Twitter—the country’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “eradicate” it from the country on Thursday—but Twitter isn’t going to leave its users tweetless.
Twitter’s @Policy account tweeted instructions on how Turkish users can use the service via SMS text messaging in both the Turkish and English languages:
Turkish users: you can send Tweets using SMS. Avea and Vodafone text START to 2444. Turkcell text START to 2555.
— Policy (@policy) March 20, 2014
Though users can send tweets easily using SMS, it’s much more difficult to read them that way. To do so, users have to subscribe to individual accounts via SMS and receive updates from them. So while it’s nice that people in Turkey are able to tweet the word out, it will be harder for them to follow conversations on the platform.
To subscribe to a user’s tweets via SMS, users can send ON [username] to their carrier’s Twitter short code (i.e., 2444 or 2555 for most Turkish users). Twitter provides step-by-step instructions on its support page.
Why Turkey Is Anti-Twitter
“We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter,” Erdogan said at a political rally Thursday. “I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”
Erdogan lashed out after anonymous audio recordings leaked on Twitter exposed apparent corruption among the prime minister’s inner circle, allegedly including Erdogan himself. According to Al Jazeera, the recordings show Erdogan and others interfering with business deals, media coverage, and court rulings.
In June, authorities operating under Erdogan’s orders arrested 25 people accused of using Twitter and other social media platforms to broadcast the anti-government protests that rocked the country last summer.
Turkey is set to hold local elections on March 30 that will determine the fate of Erdogan and Turkey’s ruling AK Party.
Two weeks ago, Erdogan also threatened to ban Facebook and YouTube for similar reasons. China is the only other country that blocks access to Twitter, although Egypt briefly banned access to the social network in January 2011 after massive protests in the country.
Image courtesy of Ceyhun (Jey) Isik on Flickr
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JOSIC: News, Sports, Style, Culture & Technology
Google & Bing Agree: Past SEO Success Guarantees You Nothing Today
Search Engine Watch
If you have an older site, one that has been around for 10+ years, you may have noticed newer websites taking positions you once owned on search engine results pages (SERPs). Why does this happen? Is it due to spamming? Or freshness? The latest …
Matt Cutts: No More SEO Benefits for Guest Blogging
Is Guest Blogging Really Over & Done?
Google Cracks Down on Spam-Heavy Guest Posting
View full post on SEO – Google News
Google’s Matt Cutts and Bing’s Duane Forrester have weighed in on the topic of why older domains that have had success in the past are being overtaken by newer domains today. Here’s their advice on what you can do to keep your website viable.
View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest