Posts tagged Time

Watch Time Now Impacts Facebook News Feed Video Rankings

Facebook is updating how it ranks the videos people and Pages upload. The new video ranking considers whether a user has watched a video and for how long. This new metric is in addition to previous considerations such as likes, comments, and shares.

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Nest To Developers: Time To Hatch Your Ideas With Our API

Developers, you have a new smart-home platform to play with. Google’s Nest unit has formally unveiled an API (see our API explainer) that will let independent programmers create new applications for the company’s smart thermostats and smoke alarms. Nest’s press release is embedded below.

The main idea behind the program is to let a variety of other devices—everything from smartwatches to smart lighting to smart cars—connect with Nest’s products to share data and act together more intelligently. They’ll do so by way of their apps, which developers can modify to use Nest API functions that, say, read data from one of its smart smoke detectors or change the thermostat temperature. (Nest actually announced the developer program last September; today just marks its formal launch.)

That opens the door to a variety of new applications, some of which Nest is showcasing as part of today’s announcement. For instance:

  • Logitech’s Harmony Ultimate remote will let you set the temperature on a Nest thermostat without getting up from the couch;
  • The popular online service IFTTT—a way of programming new behaviors into your existing online services by combining them using the formulation “if this then that”—will now work with Nest, allowing new “recipes” such as “if my detector senses smoke, text my neighbors”;
  • Google’s voice-activated smartphone search will let you set the temperature by saying “OK Google” and issuing a voice command, while its Google Now personal assistant can tell Nest when you’re nearing home and have it start warming or cooling your home before you get there;
  • Smart LED bulbs from the Australian company Lifx will flash red if a linked Nest Protect detects smoke, helping you see through the haze and even alerting hearing-impaired people who might not hear the alarm;
  • The Mercedes-Benz SmartDrive app will 

Not all of those applications may strike you as equally exciting at first glance. And while almost all of them are available immediately (a few, such as the Google services, won’t debut until the fall), it’s also worth noting that the products involved may not be in widespread use yet. It’s not clear, for instance, how many people own Whirlpool washers they can control with an app (and which can coordinate with the Nest thermostat to schedule cycles around peak energy-usage periods).

But these applications should give you a good sense of how Nest sees its future in the smart home—as a kind of traffic cop for the connected home, one that leverages the data it’s collecting about residents to inform and work with other connected devices.

It’s worth noting that Nest officials don’t embrace the notion of making their products into a “hub” that connects and coordinates other devices, except in specific and user-friendly ways. “We’re building this symbiotic experience” between Nest’s gadgets and third-party devices, says Greg Hu, director of Nest’s developer program. “It’s not about a single side becoming the hub and controlling the other.”

The data Nest gizmos collect on their households is central to making these new applications work. Its thermostat already “learns” from the behavior of residents as they turn it up and down, eventually figuring out how to program itself. It will even turn down the heat or air conditioning when residents are away, a conclusion it will reach after a certain period in which no one adjusts the temperature and the thermostat’s built-in infrared sensors detect no motion. Nest’s Protect smoke detectors likewise carry eight different sensors, including four that detect movement.

And despite a recent setback for its Protect smoke detectors (including a product recall), Nest’s ambitions are clearly growing in this respect. On Friday, for instance, it acquired the home surveillance-camera maker Dropcam for a reported $555 million, providing it yet another platform for collecting data that can be mined and used in new ways. (The company says its privacy policy prohibits the sharing of that information without customers’ permission.)

Here’s the full Nest release:

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Videos Dominate Universal Search Results 65% of the Time [Study]

Searchmetrics studied the Universal Search results for millions of keywords over the course of a year to gauge what has changed in Universal Search and how. Videos were the most common type of Universal Search result, with YouTube dominating share.

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Understanding the Impact of Dwell Time on SEO by @neilpatel

Being a smart SEO is not just about geeking out on technical details. Increasingly, SEO is less of a science and more of an art — the art of understanding your users and delivering exactly the kind of content they need and want. In this article, I discuss dwell time, which is a critical, but often overlooked facet of search optimization. Dwell time is a user-based metric that Google uses to decide how to rank your site. If you want to succeed in the SERPs, you’ve got to succeed with dwell time. What is Dwell Time? First, I’ll give you […]

The post Understanding the Impact of Dwell Time on SEO by @neilpatel appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Reusable Code For MCC Scripts Will Save You Tons Of Time In AdWords

Writing reusable code is something all developers strive for. Any developer worth his/her salt is continuously building a library of reusable code snippets to use in future development. You don’t need to re-invent the wheel each time a common problem is encountered because you can use the…

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Five Travel Hacks To Save Time, Money, And Sanity On Your Next Flight

ReadWriteTrip is a series that chronicles the modern challenges of tech-savvy business travelers.

There is both science and strategy to consider when booking air travel, and the more you know the better you can control your travel experience—as well as how much it costs you.

I used to think I had little influence over the cost of my flights or my fate once I arrived at the airport, but nearly two decades of traveling more than 125,000 miles each year has taught me some tricks for making travel pleasant—or, at least, less terrible.

Here are the most important air travel tips to know.

Put Competition To Work For You

I’ve never loved flying Southwest Airlines, but I love to fly anywhere Southwest flies. The reason? My preferred airline—Delta—is forced to match fares on routes where it competes with Southwest. 

There are other routes where Delta competes with United (e.g., SLC to SFO), but it can seem like the two carriers compete to see who can charge the most on those routes, not the least. I’m sure there are routes (JFK to SFO, maybe?) where there’s enough competition between the major airliners to lower fares, but for many of us, the key is to find a route where United, American or Delta compete with Southwest, Frontier or another discount carrier. 

There are two ways to play this. First, I can book a ticket on my preferred airline on a route where it competes with a discount carrier. For example, I can generally fly from Salt Lake City to San Jose or San Francisco for roughly $1,000. Or I can fly into Oakland, a route on which Delta competes with Southwest, for $500 or less. 

This may not seem smart if the alternative airport is inconvenient for your trip agenda. But if you’re a frequent flyer, booking your flight to Oakland doesn’t mean you’re going to Oakland. Here’s why.

Get To Know Your Co-Terminals

Each of the major airlines has its designated “co-terminals.”  (Here are American’s.) These are distinct airports that the airline considers to be the same for routing purposes Delta, for example, treats Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco as co-terminals. The fares to these airports may be different when you book your flights, but when you head to the airport, they might as well be the same.

I regularly book travel to and from Oakland, only to change my flight to San Jose or San Francisco. Delta allows frequent fliers to do what’s called a “same-day confirmed” and change a flight within three hours of take-off for no charge, provided that I’m changing it to a co-terminal. While airline rules may vary, this is a tactic worth checking out. It has saved me and my companies a great deal of money and it’s super easy to do.

When Delayed, Don’t Wait In Line—Get On The Phone

If your flight gets delayed or canceled for mechanical or other reasons, immediately call your airline to change your flight. Don’t get in the line at the departure gate, and don’t expect that a “two-hour delay” will be anything less than three hours. Airlines often post the best-case revised departure time. Over the years I’ve come to expect the worst case, only to find my fears confirmed more often than not. That’s why you need to immediately contact someone who can rebook you on another flight. In these situations—particularly if you’re a frequent flier—airlines will tend to bend all sorts of rules and allow you to change your departure day, arrival city and almost anything else. But it’s easier to get this treatment over the phone than at the ticket counter where the ticketing agent is dealing with a horde of angry travelers. Save more time by putting the special toll-free number for your frequent-flier program in your address book—you can find it on the back of your card.

Choose Your Security Line Wisely

I know this will sound terrible, but never get in the security line with kids or people over the age of 70. Invariably, they slow things down. The TSA Pre program, for a time, made this point a non-issue, as only savvy business travelers were allowed to use the TSA Pre lines. No longer, as The Wall Street Journal reportsIn an attempt to goose demand for TSA Pre, the TSA has started letting crowds of people into TSA Pre lines. As such, aim for the line with no kids and people wearing suits or other business attire.

The Middle Seat Gets The Armrest—Always

It’s surprising how few people know this unwritten rule, but it’s a rule all the same. If you’re in the middle seat, claim the armrests and defend them to the death!

There are, of course, countless other tips. But these are some of the tips that keep me sane and keep my employer flush with cash.

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Apple To Support Third Party Widgets, Keyboards For The First Time

Apple is opening the floodgates to third party widgets and keyboards on iOS.

Users will be able to access widgets directly in the notification center on iPhone. What’s more, these widgets can come from third parties, not just Apple itself.

As further indication of a less controlling, more relaxed era for Apple, the company is allowing third party keyboards on iPhones for the first time. Third party keyboards like Swype and Swiftkey, which speed up typing by predicting next words and allowing users to “swipe” an onscreen keyboard instead of typing, have been a staple of the Android marketplace for years. But iPhone users’ pleas for alternatives to Apple’s stock keyboard have long fallen on deaf ears.

Until now. Third party keyboards won’t simply be begrudgingly accepted but encouraged, if the company’s WWDC keynote is any indication. Apple is now presenting users’ ability to install any third party keyboard, app, or widget as a major advantage of iOS8.

Apple did not name any particular third party keyboards that will be available on iOS, but it did announce a “predictive typing” keyboard of its own called QuickType. According to Apple, QuickType will observe the way you type and learn to suggest your likely next word. 

Photo courtesy of Swype

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Apple Buys Headphone, Music-Service Company Beats For $3 Billion—This Time For Real

Apple is buying Beats Electronics and Beats Music, the headphone hardware manufacturer and streaming music service for $3 billion.

Rumors of the deal have flummoxed tech insiders since they leaked out earlier this month. It’s unclear how Beats will fit into Apple’s vision, though it’s likely a bid to buy back the future of music and regain its “cool factor.” 

Beats founders rap megastar and producer Dr. Dre and Interscope Records cofounder Jimmy Iovine will join Apple as full-time employees, though it’s not yet clear in what capacity.

Image via Beats

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It’s Time To Get iMessage On Android

Since Apple introduced its own text-messaging system, iMessage, in 2011, it’s had a dirty little secret: Users who ditch iPhones for Google’s Android smartphones may lose messages people send to them.

It’s hard to assess the extent of the problem, because it involves messages that don’t find their way to their destination. By definition, it’s difficult to count what’s missing. But anyone who has switched, or had a friend or contact switch, from Apple to Android has probably experienced this problem.

It’s frustrating, to say the least—for Apple, too. While the company’s engineers have reportedly tried numerous times to fix the issue, different bugs keep derailing a fix. 

Apple suggests users disassociate their phone number from their Apple ID—the login system used for Apple’s iTunes and App Store—and turn off iMessage on all their devices if they’re switching to Android. Even this doesn’t always work.

As an iPhone owner, I use iMessage to chat more than any other messaging application because it’s so convenient—but it only works for iOS users. The people I chat with the most are other iPhone users, and I can see their messages on both my MacBook and iPhone, depending on which device I’m using. But when one of those people switched to Android, we didn’t talk for a few days. It wasn’t because of a feud: She just stopped getting my texts

Why Are The Messages Stuck?

Unlike traditional SMS text messages, Apple routes iMessages through its own secure servers, bypassing carriers like AT&T or T-Mobile. Each message is encrypted—scrambled with a digital code so it can’t easily be snooped on in transmission.  

Most of the time, iMessages whiz from sender to receiver. The problem happens when they get stuck. According to this Apple security document, iMessages are queued for delivery to offline devices and are stored for up to seven days on Apple’s servers. If an Android user doesn’t disconnect her number from her Apple ID, the messages linger in the cloud, with nowhere to go—because Apple’s servers are looking for an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to deliver it to. The only reason why Android devices can’t receive iMessages is they don’t have software that lets them.

Is iMessage For Android The Answer? 

Apple isn’t in the habit of building software for operating systems outside its own, but occasionally—as with iTunes for Windows and Safari for Windows—it’s willing to share. Apple cofounder Steve Jobs compared iTunes for Windows to “giving a glass of ice water to someone in Hell.”

With iMessage for Android, Apple could solve the problem of iMessages ending up in limbo, and add millions of potential customers—all while keeping users tethered to its cloud services, like iTunes. While Apple would prefer otherwise, it’s not uncommon for people to mix and match—using an iPad tablet and an Android smartphone, for example. It makes sense for Apple to give defectors an opportunity to stay loosely attached to the Apple system, rather than lose them all together.

Android has its own analogue of iMessage: Google Hangouts, a chat system that’s tied to the Google+ social network. As iMessage does on iPhones and iPads, Hangouts comes preinstalled on Android devices, and keeps users in the Google ecosystem. (Android phones also have a basic text-message app that doesn’t require a Google login.)

Google’s app is a bit younger than iMessage—the Hangouts messaging app, which unified Google Talk, Google+ Messenger, and Hangouts video chat, launched last May. And it’s still competing with other apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, which work across Android and iOS. 

iMessage, like most other chat apps, sends messages over Wi-Fi or data connections, so it doesn’t count as a text message on your phone bill. At Apple’s shareholder meeting earlier this year, CEO Tim Cook said Apple sends billions of iMessages per day, though he didn’t get more specific in his numbers.

iMessage on Android would not only be convenient for cross-platform chatting, but it would also provide more security to your private communications. Apple’s iMessage system is reportedly difficult, if not impossible, for federal authorities to crack. (Popular apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat can’t claim that.) Even Apple itself has said it’s not able to read the content of iMessages, thanks to its encryption scheme.

It might be a bit of a technical undertaking. It will also be a political one, given Google and Apple’s salty relationship. But if Apple can build iMessage for desktop Macs, which are very different in their hardware architecture from iPhones and iPads, it seems like it should be technically possible to port it to Android.

Apple has promised to fix the iMessage bug, though it hasn’t given any details as to when, exactly, that fix might come. Considering this has been a problem since the launch of iMessage in 2011, the resolution might not come for a while. In the meantime, Apple is facing a lawsuit launched by a disgruntled user whose important messages have disappeared into the cloud. 

iMessage for Android will likely not come soon, if ever, but it could help solve a problem that’s plagued it for years. And as messaging apps continue skyrocketing in popularity around the world, adding on more to the mix—while keeping millions tied to the Apple ecosystem—might not be such a bad idea.

Lead image modified from the original by Kārlis Dambrāns on Flickr

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Doodle Equality: In 2014, Google Features Women In Special Logos Nearly Half The Time

If you haven’t noticed, the Google Doodle team — which creates those special Google logos — has been making up for lost time in 2014, adding significantly more women to the number of historic figures featured on Google’s various regional and global homepages. Now, nearly…

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