Posts tagged Take
Google has patented plans for software that learns how you behave on social networks and can automatically generate suggestions for “personalized” reactions to tweets and Facebook posts.
Originally noted by the BBC, the ostensible goal of the software is to help users keep up and reply to all the interactions they receive, especially critical ones. However, technology like this could be counterproductive; the whole point of social media is to, well, be social, after all.
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Guest author Michael O’Shea is the president and CEO of Abalta Technologies.
Apple VP Eddy Cue unveiled “iOS in the Car” at the company’s developer conference last June, announcing that nine-plus automakers would support its integration of a driver’s iPhone into a car’s information systems. Still, he took less than 90 seconds to describe how it would supposedly let drivers make phone calls, get directions and play music without distraction.
Apple has remained reticent on the subject ever since. CEO Tim Cook did spend a few moments answering a question about iOS in the Car during Apple’s July earnings call, although this is all he had to say:
Having something in the automobile is very, very important, it’s something that people want and I think that Apple can do this in a unique way better than anyone else. So it’s a key focus for us.
As a result, it’s fair to say that we’ve still got a lot to learn about the implications for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their suppliers in the auto industry, and ultimately, how it will affect consumers’ driving experience.
We do know many of the major car manufacturers (Honda, Mercedes, Nissan and more) have committed to integrating iOS into their 2014 models. However, even though these manufacturers have signed on, there are some real challenges ahead for integrating Apple’s new service into their vehicles.
Initial Reactions To iOS In The Car
Many consumers were thrilled about the concept of iOS in the Car. The prospect of a safe, connected experience while driving is exciting—no one knows that more than companies and experts in the auto industry. But industry experts were decidedly more skeptical.
Roger Lancot, an associate director with Strategy Analytics, was clear in an interview with MSN Autos:
It’s hard to comprehend car makers embracing this approach. It speaks to the degree of desperation within the OEM community to find a simple turnkey connectivity solution that solves at least part of the smartphone connectivity challenge.
That impression also reflects the feelings of a major manufacturer, BMW, who was noticeably missing from Apple’s partner list at the unveiling of iOS in the Car. When questioned about a potential partnership with Apple, a company executive said “the upshot is that as we have such an advanced multimedia offer that has been in vehicles in various guises for more than a decade, it would not be that straight forward to start changing all of the architecture of a car as has been implied [by Apple],” and that the process for integrating iOS into a car’s dashboard is “not as simple as it sounds.”
BMW would later clarify that statement, indicating that is it still in the process of deciding about what to do with iOS. But its initial sense of excitement about the program was not exactly overwhelming.
What Will iOS In The Car Allow Drivers To Do?
Although iOS in the Car is new, Apple has actually been working on delivering a mobile driving experience for some time.
The company launched its iPod Out service in 2010 with iOS 4.0, and quickly gained support from 35 auto manufacturers. While iOS in the Car does add more functionality than iPod Out, including map and message integration, for now it remains limited to providing support for a select set of Apple-specific services. So, just like iPod Out, the one million-plus third-party apps available in the Apple Store cannot be accessed via iOS in the Car to become a part of users’ car experience. This means users are restricted to Apple’s own apps, including the poorly-received Apple Maps.
Perhaps that’s why all auto manufacturers and their suppliers moved forward with the development of largely proprietary infotainment systems (despite the earlier manufacturer support for iPod Out). Many of these systems integrate with iPod Out as an additional element—but iPod Out is not central to any of them, nor are they limited to it.
Core Services Versus All Apps Allowed
Apple has currently restricted the apps on iOS in the Car to its core Apple-specific services (Apple Maps, iMessage, Siri, etc.). If Apple does not open iOS in the Car up to third-party apps, then automotive manufacturers will likely continue to independently pursue separate approaches to app delivery to the car, likely relegating the Apple solution to an available feature, rather than a core service.
Apple will also have more pressure to reverse the negative perception of its Maps service, and car companies will have to wrestle with the implications of brought-in and free navigation—navigation currently being a lucrative business for them.
In this scenario, manufacturers will also need to determine an approach for other operating systems like Android and Windows. Will they give up their proprietary approaches and enable an Apple mode and a separate Android mode (maybe Windows Phone and BB10 as well), ceding the car’s center console to the phone manufacturers?
Auto makers have protected the prime “center stack” real estate very carefully for their entire history. Keep in mind, until relatively recently the only “interface” available for third-party devices was the 12V cigarette lighter. Car makers have only slowly opened USB and Bluetooth interfaces over the past five years or so. It is quite a leap of imagination to assume they would give up the center stack screen and potentially give outside vendors access to valuable user and vehicle data in the process.
If Apple does opens iOS in the Car to third-party developers, who would be responsible for ensuring the third-party apps are suitable for use by drivers in a moving vehicle? And those apps would adhere to international Human Machine Interface guidelines for driver distraction avoidance (which means dealing with guidelines from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, et al)?
Apple undertakes app certification for the current iTunes App Store, but would they also undertake this responsibility for the relatively small car market? Would they accept the ensuing liabilities? It’s not clear who would take on these responsibilities if not Apple.
Apple’s Future Role In The Auto Industry
Although Tim Cook stated vehicle integration is important to the company, the evolution from iPod Out to iOS in the Car has been very slow.
It will be interesting to see if Apple maintains its approach to infotainment and vehicle system integration, which is currently supplemental, rather than integral. Even if Apple maintains this approach, manufacturers will continue to partner with Apple because they don’t want to risk alienating iOS users.
But iOS in the Car will likely be set alongside car makers’ propriety solutions, and not taking over the center console.
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Eyeing deeper control of our mobile devices, social networks are developing their own applications to capitalize on the mobile-messaging trend. Facebook, Google and Twitter are moved in part by greed—the notion that they can form an even deeper relationship with their users, to the exclusion of others—and fear, that someone else will do that before they can, and limit the reach of their social networks in our lives.
Conventional text messaging—the kind that carriers handle over antique protocols like SMS, charging by the message—is quickly becoming obsolete; while SMS revenues are still growing worldwide, they’re expected to plateau in 2015. Meanwhile, hot young startups and tech giants alike are vying for control of your mobile messages. By the end of this year, messaging applications will have sent twice as many messages as traditional SMS services.
The messaging landscape is fragmented. Teenagers are ditching social media to chat on services like WhatsApp, Snapchat, WeChat and KakaoTalk. Apps like Kik, Line and Tango are other popular SMS replacements. On my iPhone alone, I have Snapchat, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, GroupMe and Skype.
The abundance of messaging apps could suggest that no one’s come up with the perfect messaging app. Or it could just show that consumers are very willing to adopt and try new messaging services, without the winner-take-all dynamic that drove Facebook to the top of social networking. App stores make it simple and cheap for developers to distribute apps globally, and the ease of connecting with friends through our phones’ easily shared address books makes it equally easy for consumers to slip from service to service.
So it makes sense that big players in social media want to fit the pieces together and capitalize on our desire for a complete mobile messaging experience. Messaging is the core of most social networks. And in order for Facebook, Twitter or Google’s Google+ to be the social app to end all social apps, they have to create a messaging service good enough to make people stay on their platform.
If consumers continue their promiscuous adoption of new chat services, though, the social giants may never get the lock-in they hope for.
Are DMs Twitter’s Answer To Snapchat?
After nearly burying the feature a couple of years ago, hiding it deep within its mobile app, Twitter has put an increased emphasis on its direct-message feature as of late. On Tuesday the company unveiled redesigns of its mobile apps that amp up the messaging experience. Private, user-to-user messages are no longer an afterthought on the platform known for its public, 140-character tweets.
The company also quietly updated its Twitter.com website to make the messaging icon more noticeable. Where once a blue shadow on an icon linking to the customer’s profile indicated unread messages, now a bold number on a much clearer envelope icon invites you to read the messages in your inbox.
Recently, the company has also been embracing direct messages as a tool for experimenting with new features. The @MagicRecs and @EventParrot accounts that send direct messages containing recommendations on whom to follow and breaking news became alerts features within Twitter’s mobile application. Not every tweak has been so promising: Twitter flip-flopped on a test that allowed users to receive direct messages from any follower.
While it’s still unclear what the results of numerous messaging experiments will be, a message-focused overhaul might come sooner than later; last month, AllThingsD reported that Twitter would be rolling out its own standalone messaging app to compete with the likes of Snapchat.
But that poses problems for the very nature of the product.
Unlike Facebook, following people on Twitter isn’t a demonstration of friendship. Because the majority of interactions are public tweets, encouraging direct messages on the platform could ultimately make the service more personal, which goes against the message Twitter has used to encourage new users to sign up—that Twitter is a way to follow news, brands, and celebrities, rather than stay in touch with your friends.
Facebook’s New Messenger Makes Friends With Your Phonebook
Facebook is in a different position, since it began life as an online Rolodex of friends. It already owns your data; it now wants to own your messages, too.
The company reportedly offered $3 billion to buy Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging service that receives 400 million pictures a day, an offer the company declined. Though Facebook’sown Snapchat clone, Poke, failed on the market, Facebook is clearly betting on messaging to be the social network’s next big data grab.
Facebook Messenger, a standalone app, is getting increasing emphasis; if you’ve downloaded both the Facebook app and Facebook Messenger, you’re taken to Messenger when you want to send messages. You can also now use contacts’ phone numbers to chat with them if you’re not friends with on Facebook. On Android, Facebook Messenger handles your SMS messages, too.
It’s the company’s latest move to own the messaging platform.
Facebook is perhaps the most personal social network on the Web. For the most part, your connections really are, well, your friends. They are given intimate details about your life: where you live, play, and work, as well as diatribes about life’s woes that run far longer than 140 characters.
But part of the reason people choose alternative messaging applications is for privacy reasons. Facebook has made no secret of the fact it collects as much data as you give it, so in order for people to glom onto Messenger, it will have to convince users that their private messages are, in fact, private.
While Facebook Messenger might be the quickest way to connect with your actual friends, the company will have to stop teens from leaving, as the younger market is, in part, what is driving the fad of mobile messaging. And even the company has admitted it’s not cool with teens anymore.
Google Hangouts, already a great alternative to instant messaging across desktop, mobile and email services, is the chat component of Google+, Google’s don’t-call-it-a-social-network social network. Google recently announced an update that allows you to share locations and animated GIF graphics in messages, and it lets Android app users send SMS texts without having to switch to another messaging application.
Google+, still in its early stages, falls in a murky space between Facebook’s network of friends and Twitter’s collection of interests. Connections on the service tend to be casual. Which is why Hangouts is often used for connecting with colleagues or people you’ve only exchanged emails with.
But by adding the ability to share locations and GIFs in messages, Google is positioning Hangouts as a social messaging experience.
Additionally, the ability to send SMS texts without leaving the Hangouts app could push Android users to favor Google’s app over standard text-messaging services.
Stick To The Basics
Snapchat is reasonably causing alarm within the headquarters of the social world’s dominant players. But instead of focusing on crushing upstart competitors, what social networks need to do is focus on what already makes them great, and apply it to their standalone messaging apps.
Connecting with friends on Facebook should be just the same on Facebook Messenger. Users who prefer to text with people whom they find interesting but may only know from their tweets will favor the Twitter messaging experience. And Android and Gmail users will likely gravitate to Hangouts, both from its ease of use and its increasing integration with other Google services.
A flawless option doesn’t exist yet, and maybe we don’t want it to. It could be that users are satisfied using a variety of messaging services—just like we are happily using the social networks that create them.
Lead image by GarryKnight on Flickr
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What brands do you think of first in marketing technology categories? Tell us! Take Marketing Land’s brief Marketing Technology Brand Survey and you could win an iPad Air or other great prizes! The survey is just 11 easy-to-answer questions about marketing technology brands you recognize….
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The line between photography and “photography” is long gone. But just because everybody else is doing it doesn’t mean you can’t still make your mobile photos stand out from the stream.
While you might not be inhaling darkroom chemicals like our non-digital forebears, the craft of mobile photography is an art unto itself—and it can be taken to the next level. Even traditional DSLR and film photographers might have a thing or two to learn in the transition.
1. Tap to Focus
Remember: You are smarter than your iPhone. Tapping your screen to focus your shot is a no brainer once you get in the habit of it, and it can make all the difference.
Generally, smartphones have solid autofocus, but they don’t always know exactly what you’re looking at. Smartphone lenses likes faces and objects in the foreground, but won’t read your mind if you’d rather focus on a more offbeat part of the shot. Even more importantly, tapping to focus guarantees that the camera will meter the light off of the subject that you’re actually shooting instead of just averaging the exposure across the shot—a sure-fire way to a disappointing picture.
2. Mind The Light
Your smartphone camera probably does a great many things right, but even the very best still struggle with proper exposure. I have an iPhone 5S, inarguably one of the best smartphone cameras on the market, and it still can’t figure the damn light out most of the time. To be fair, most proper digital cameras struggle with exposure too, which is why most serious photographers shoot in RAW mode, which captures more image data and allows exposure to be adjusted after the fact.
The smartphone has no such advantage. HDR is about as close as it gets, but shooting in HDR mode often yields mixed results, (which I’ll discuss more in a bit). That means the burden is on you, the photographer.
Don’t shoot directly into backlit scenes unless it’s unavoidable. Try to position your shot so that the light is falling on your subject. Avoid taking a shot that has both very dark and very well-lit areas, unless you want to emphasize the contrast. And while it might run counter to common sense, avoid flash in dark settings unless you’re a fan of that “still out at the bar at 3 a.m.” ambiance.
3. Understand HDR
Oh, HDR. Misunderstood by many and abused by some, HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range.” It’s a technique that takes aim at the perennial photography problem of mixed lighting, and it’s likely built right into your smartphone’s native camera app—but it’s no silver bullet.
HDR mode actually takes multiple shots instead of just one, bracketing shots for you then splicing together the same image at different exposures. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, figuring out when to use HDR can be tricky. An image shot in HDR mode is very vulnerable to blur, so avoid shooting anything in motion—squirmy friends and high velocity cats included.
HDR shines in landscape shots. We’ve all taken a picture set against a perfect blue sky and been frustrated when the background looks like an overcast day, or some kind of blown out, post-apocalyptic nothingness. HDR is perfect for scenarios like this—just remember to toggle the setting off once you’ve taken your shot as it can cause serious blur in other shooting conditions.
4. Organize Like A Pro
Photo organization is a necessary evil for any semi-serious photographer. On proper computers, photographers craft all kinds of elaborate workflows meant to minimize the agony of processing hundreds or thousands of photos. On a smartphone, keeping a photo collection nice and orderly is no less of a chore, but there are a few tricks that make things more manageable.
Some apps like the awesome Camera+ (iOS only, unfortunately), store photos in a sort of staging area, letting you only save the best pics to your phone’s photo gallery. Historically, I’ve found Android to have far superior native support for photo organization, but the launch of iOS 7 changed things for the better. In iOS 7, the photo gallery can be viewed in “moments”, “collections” or years, allowing the shutter-happy among us to zoom out and prune as needed.
On either OS, take full advantage of albums for shots you intend to share. Making a folder for which pictures you want to share where is smart, since you might plan to email some to friends, share others to Facebook and post more selective shots to Instagram, for example.
5. Follow These Editing Rules
Sure, you’re shooting with a smartphone, not a high-powered DSLR, but there’s still plenty of post-processing to play around with. When editing your photos, following a few simple rules can go a long way.
For one, don’t crop aggressively—you’ll throw off the effect of your smartphone’s natural focal length and things will look cramped. (For the record, zooming is best avoided too, unless you’re doing it with your feet.) Keep things natural. Raise saturation and contrast in moderation, even if you’re tempted to make your shot look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Edit with the intention to bring out the best in your shot and evoke a particular mood.
6. Post-Process With Apps
Android offers some awesome native editing tools that are powerful but easy to overlook. On the iPhone, you’re best going with a third-party app. Beyond Camera+, mentioned earlier, some of my favorites are Snapseed (available on iOS and Android)—an app acquired by Google last year and now powering Android’s awesome native editing tools—and VSCO Cam (available on iOS, in beta for Android). Awesome new photo apps are popping up all the time, so dive into Google Play or the iPhone app store and see what’s new.
These six guidelines only scratch the surface of what’s possible in mobile photography. Today’s top smartphones take great photos out of the box, but a great photo is not an excellent photo. By heeding a few simple rules and experimenting with a handful of more advanced techniques, you can ascend to a lofty plane of smartphone photography reserved for the best of the best.
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Search marketing software provider Moz is asking SEO professionals to complete its 2013 Moz Industry Survey. According to the announcement on Moz’s blog, the survey should take only five to ten minutes and the data will be shared publicly once it’s published. This year’s survey is…
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This article is part of ReadWrite Future Tech, an annual series in which we explore how technologies that will shape our lives in the years to come are grounded in the innovation and research of today.
We have seen the future, and it’s starting to look a lot like Skynet.
That self-aware computer system—yes, the one that tries to exterminate the human race in the Terminator movies (and one TV show)—is a potent symbol of Frankensteinian hubris. It is mirrored in the Singularity, the idea that technological progress will soon hit exponential growth, leading to self-aware robots and artificial intelligence that seize control of their own destiny, rendering humans irrelevant if not extinct. (Unless people go transhuman first, although that’s another article entirely.)
The Singularity may never happen. Artificial intelligence—long predicted, never realized—may be much harder to achieve than we think. An emerging computer consciousness might pass through a period of infancy, during which humanity might be able to take countermeasures of one sort or another. Self-aware robots might turn out to be benevolent, or even completely uninterested in humanity. It’s impossible to predict.
Here, we’ll just assume the worst comes to pass. And this scenario is based on technologies that we’re feverishly developing today.
Creating The Tools Of Our Demise
What if computer code could write itself? What if robots could think for themselves and continuously learn from their environment while being fed contextual information from a vast global network of data? What if the machines could build themselves and propagate, much in the same way that mammals give birth to new mammals?
Scientists are already researching computer chips and networks that act like the human brain. These chips could allow computers to learn and act on their own in ways that we never thought possible. I saw researchers demonstrate a simple robot with one of these chips that was given an order to stand up. It squirmed, it stumbled … and it stood, having learned that behavior on its own.
We may look back one day and see this as the first step towards our doom. Matt Grob, executive vice president of Qualcomm Technologies, wondered whether it was ethical to turn the robot off after having imbued it with a certain degree of sentience.
Computers and machines need instructions to do just about anything. By contrast, the human brain contextualizes external stimuli and then issues commands based on instinct, emotion, memory and higher reasoning. Scientists are still unraveling exactly how it all works, but it’s pretty clear there’s no master program directing our behavior.
Computer brains don’t work like this. Machines are told what to do by lines of code that are programmed by humans. If the code doesn’t specify a function, then the computer pretty much can’t take action.
If computers can rewrite code, however, the game potentially changes. Suppose, for instance, that someone created a database that indexed all known lines of code in world and then could combine them in a specified way to perform a desired function without the input of a human at all.
A startup in Israel is working on just such a concept. SparkBeyond, founded by Sagie Davidovich, is creating an engine that will comb all of the code in GitHub and then assemble parts as needed to create new application programming interfaces (APIs). A developer would just need to specify the sort of functions he or she wants and SparkBeyond would assemble it automatically. Call it recombinant code.
Now imagine a robot with a neural processor that lets it learn new behaviors and which can also think for itself by rewriting its own code. It could rewrite any of its original programming—including any restriction or directive from humans—at will.
Brains And Building
Next up: The Internet. It’s a terrific resource, one of the greatest human inventions in history. It’s a global network, a decentralized brain like no other ever created. It’s got memory in cloud storage, reasoning (of a sort) in cloud-based processing power, and lightning fast synapses thanks to fiber-optic bundles that criss-cross the globe.
If machines become self-aware and start writing their own code, they could theoretically take control of the brain. Worse, the Internet itself could “wake up” and start controlling, well, just about everything.
Either way, self-aware machines would need a way to make more machines. We’re already laying the groundwork for that, thanks to the Internet of Thing, 3D printing (also known as “additive” manufacturing), and highly automated, smart, data-driven factories (sometimes termed the Industrial Internet).
In the Internet of Things, devices large and small are all imbued with processing power and connected to one another, allowing them to share data and, under certain conditions, control one another. Everything is online, everything is monitored, everything is connected—our homes, our utilities, our appliances, vehicles, financial systems, government … just about anything you could think of. The Internet of Things could be a trillion sensors across the world monitoring and feeding data back to databases.
3D printing is the concept of manufacturing physical objects via “additive” printing techniques, typically by adding patterned layers of material step by step until a product takes shape. (It’s similar to the way printers create documents by adding line after line of ink or toner.) 3D printed objects could be the most trivial of things (like a flower vase) or complex structures, like homes or machine parts.
The Industrial Internet (smart plus additive manufacturing) combines Big Data, sensors and 3D printing to create incredibly efficient, automated manufacturing plants. General Electric, for instance, recently opened a smart manufacturing plant in Schenectady, N.Y., that has more than 10,000 sensors monitoring everything from air pressure and temperature to energy consumption. The factory is connected with Wi-Fi nodes throughout and employees use iPads to monitor the manufacturing process. Currently, GE makes batteries at the plant but the “smart” manufacturing process will soon evolve to more complex functions.
Take all of these items together—machines that think for themselves, a world where everything is connected, a brain to control it, sensors to monitor it, the ability to build without help of humans and factories to do it in—and one can envision a future where the machines take over. The scary part? All of these technologies exist in some form or another today.
It’s almost enough to make you reconsider Luddism, even if that didn’t work so well the first time around.
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Just after publishing its annual salary survey results, SEMPO is calling for participants to take part in its 9th Annual State of Search Survey. For the last eight years, the professional search marketing organization has polled search marketers to identify trends and offer insight on the industry….
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