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Our favorite iPhone and Android apps of the year

We’re increasingly reliant on the smartphones in our pockets to keep in touch with friends, watch movies and TV shows, and get work done. But the phones themselves would be meaningless without the software that, almost like magic, imbues them with new powers even their creators never thought possible.

In that spirit, these are TIME’s 50 best iPhone and Android apps of the year. These are apps that were either released, had a notable redesign, or took off in popularity this year. The list is unranked, as the different functionality of each app makes them impossible to fairly compare. What did we miss?

Venmo

iPhone and Android, Free

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It’s rare that a company or an app gets “verbified” the way Google did. That’s exactly what’s happening with money-sending app Venmo, especially among cash-allergic millennials. “Just Venmo me” is an increasingly common refrain at brunch or the bar when it’s time to split the check.

Messages

iPhone, Free

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Why include Apple’s default messaging service in this list? Because Messages got a major overhaul in iOS 10, the company’s new iPhone software update. Messages is now a feature-rich messaging platform, complete with third-party apps, stickers, and fun graphic effects like confetti and laser beams. All the new functionality puts it leagues ahead of regular old SMS texting.

Signal

iPhone and Android, Free

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Which messaging app should you use when you really want to make sure your chats stay secret? Try Signal, an encrypted chat app used by politicians, businesspeople and whistleblowers worldwide. Signal offers complete end-to-end encryption, meaning the company behind the app can’t see what you’re sending and receiving. And it works with your existing contact book, so long as both parties have Signal installed.

Snapchat

iPhone and Android, Free

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Sure, Snapchat first came out in 2011, but it certainly came into its own this year — especially with the app’s “Chat 2.0” revision in March 2016. With that update, the free disappearing video messaging app laid the groundwork for all sorts of killer features, from geofilters to facial lenses. As a result, Snapchat has not only become one of the most fun apps of the year, but it’s turning into a real business, too.

Pokémon Go

iPhone and Android, Free

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The super-powered creatures that triggered a worldwide craze in the 90’s have finally reached the smartphone era. Immediately upon launching in July, Pokémon Go became a massive sensation among seemingly anyone who owned a smartphone. The game tasks players with physically exploring the real world to capture new Pokémon creatures, engaging in battles to claim gyms, and collecting items. It also uses your phone’s camera to make it seem like critters from the game are appearing in your actual surroundings. By cleverly using the technology in our smartphones and tapping into a wildly beloved franchise, game developer Niantic created a smash hit.

WhatsApp

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In the seven years that WhatsApp has existed, it’s become one of the most widely used communication tools in the world. The Facebook-owned app initially gained popularity because it works on most smartphones and provides a cheaper alternative to SMS for sending messages around the globe. After conducting a survey this April that included 187 countries, research firm SimilarWeb found that WhatsApp was the messaging app of choice in 55% of the world. Earlier this year, the company announced that it surpassed the one billion user milestone, meaning one in every seven people in the world now use WhatsApp.

NPR One

iPhone and Android, Free

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Unless you drive often, you probably don’t have easy access to an AM/FM radio. Which means it’s hard to find public radio, a great source of news, knowledge and new music. NPR’s new NPR One app can help — it’s basically a customizable public radio station that learns what shows you like and what topics you’re interested in, building a more personal feed over time. You can also use it to listen to NPR podcasts on demand, like Planet Money and the NPR Politics Podcast.

NYT Cooking

iPhone, Free (web version for Android)

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Need an easy weekday meal for two? What should you do with all those apples you just picked? How about a slow-cooker recipe? NYT Cooking, from The New York Times, can answer all these questions and more. It offers lots of great recipes searchable by type of meal, prep time and more, often along with beautiful photos. A big bonus: You can save recipes from around the web to this app, making it a clearing house for the meals you’d like to cook.

Spotify

iPhone, Android (Free With Ads)

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Even with Apple, Amazon and Google all taking aim, Spotify is still king of the music streaming apps. A big redesign this year brought a more modern interface that’s still dead simple to use, and gorgeous to boot. One of our favorite features is the mood-based playlists, great when you need something for a rainy day or a morning workout.

A Good Snowman Is Hard to Build

iPhone and Android, $4.99

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A puzzle game about crafting people made of snow, rolled into being by a blobby black creature surrounded by tiny gardens of white. Players fashion snowballs from strips of snow by swiping to roll, then stacking them in threes, large-medium-small. Only each garden has constraints, from ornamental bird baths and birdhouses to rows of potted plants. Beautifully visualized and scored, A Good Snowman Is Hard to Build is one of the sweetest, smartest puzzlers to grace 2016.

Prisma

iPhone and Android, Free

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Photo editing apps are generally a dime a dozen, all offering slight variations on the same basic features: Film-style filters, crop and resize tools, red eye reduction and so on. Prisma stands out from the pack by using complex algorithms to transform your images into vibrant and unique works of art. A recent update means it can now do the same for video, too. It takes some practice to know which filters will work the best with which photos, but once you nail it, the payoff is sweet.

White Noise

iPhone, Android (Free With Ads)

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Getting a newborn to sleep, or even just break out of a crying fit, is no easy feat. White Noise helps by flooding baby with soothing sounds, from “Heavy Rain Pouring” and “Ocean Waves Crashing” to “Extreme Rain Pouring” and “Stream Water Flowing.” It’s easy to switch between sounds and adjust the volume to find the mix that works best for baby. Only one downside: The app doesn’t work in the background if you exit it to work on other things. Best to download it onto one of the old disconnected iPhones sitting in a drawer and make that baby’s iPhone.

bitmoji

iPhone and Android, Free

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Why say it with words when you can say it with stickers? Bitmoji lets you create custom emoji-like stickers complete with an avatar that looks just like you. Stickers have been around for years, but they’re really taking off this year — so much so that Snapchat acquired the company behind Bitmoji for about $100 million in March.

Google Translate

iPhone and Android, Free

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One of the coolest pieces of fictional Star Trek tech is the Universal Translator, which lets the Enterprise’s crew understand alien languages. The next best thing is Google Translate, which can take typed phrases, spoken words and even real-world text (like street signs) and transform them into other languages. This year’s big update brought more useful features, like tap-to-translate on Android and offline language packs for the iPhone version, helpful when you’re traveling abroad without a data plan

Breathe

Apple Watch, Free

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Apple’s Breathe app, for the Apple Watch, walks users through a short set of deep breathing exercises. That might sound silly, but spending a few minutes every day to take some deep breaths can have remarkable benefits for your mental health. Our advice: Disable the daily breathe reminders, stressful in their own right, and open the app only when you need it.

Burly Men At Sea

iPhone and Android, $4.99

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Brain&Brain’s folklorish adventure is a whimsical romp starring three bearded adventurers that speaks in plaintive accordion tunes and whispers, airy sighs and polyphonic hoots–one that marries quirky activities with starlit encounters and aquamarine serpents plucked from Norwegian myth. It’s a little bit The Old Man and the Sea, a little bit O Brother, Where Art Thou? And a reminder that every journey is a circle, filled with both farce and delight.

Amazon Alexa

iPhone and Android, Free

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Amazon’s Alexa app turns your smartphone into a remote for your Echo Internet-connected speaker, handy for setup and when you’re too far from your Echo for it to pick up your requests. If you’re an Echo fan, this app is a can’t-miss companion.

Quik

iPhone and Android, Free

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Modern smartphones can record very high-quality video, but what to do with all that footage? Try Quik, an automatic video editing app that action camera maker GoPro acquired and rebranded this year. Quik takes a bunch of your video footage, identifies the best moments automatically, and sets the whole thing to mood-appropriate music. It’s a great way to add a professional-looking touch to your recordings before putting them on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.

Mint

iPhone and Android, Free

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Mint’s an older app, but it’s still the king of budget management software. Mint connects with your various bank accounts, pulling in your spending and income and organizing it into categories that make it easy to track and stick to a budget. It’s great in those situations when you’re contemplating a big purchase and want to see if you can really afford it or not.

Gboard

iPhone, Free

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Google’s Gboard app pulls Google’s powerful search engine into text conversations, making it possible to find answers to questions or seek restaurant suggestions without leaving a chat. Google’s search bar is built right into the keyboard, which pulls up results across sites on the Web, locations in Google Maps, and more. The app launched in May, months before Apple released its dramatic overhaul of iMessage in September that added the ability to interact with outside apps within a text thread.

Day One

iPhone, $4.99

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Keeping and looking back on a journal can be deeply rewarding, but it’s a tough habit to build. Instead try Day One, a journaling app that makes it easy to quickly record a few thoughts, along with a photo, every day. Unlike paper journals, Day One automatically backs up your notes to the cloud, helping preserve your reflections forever.

Crashlands

iPhone and Android, $4.99

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Old school roleplaying games dole out abstract rewards like “experience points” so you can make your superpowers a trifle more super. New school ones like Crashlands let you scoop those rewards up off the battlefield, drag them back to your base, then turn them into cool, usable objects. Killer aliens meets goofball storytelling and characters meets a weighty crafting system brimming with hundreds of recipes, Crashlands is everything predictable RPGs aren’t.

Boomerang

iPhone and Android, Free

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Boomerang takes a burst of still photos, then stitches them together in a short, looping video. The end result is somewhere between a GIF and a stop-motion movie. Tons of fun to play around with, Boomerang is Instagram’s best spinoff app.

Google Trips

iPhone and Android, Free

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With its new travel app, Google wants to be the only resource you need when planning your next getaway. Trips scans your Gmail inbox for flight and hotel information, pulling it into a one-stop-shop. It also packs itineraries for a handful of cities, including attractions, restaurants and more. These simple travel guides can be downloaded for offline use, great when you’re abroad without a data plan.

Untappd

iPhone and Android, Free

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Remember how much fun Foursquare was in its glory days? Well, Untappd is basically Foursquare specifically for beer. It’s great as a sort of “beer journal:” Scanning a bottle or can’s barcode with your smartphone saves it for later, meaning you’ll always be able to remember the name of that new brew you tried last night.

Vevo

iPhone and Android, Free

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If you love music videos, you probably know Vevo, which is basically the MTV of the smartphone era. Vevo dropped a big redesign this year featuring a gorgeous interface with your favorite music videos, as well as a discovery feature to help you find rising artists. The app learns your preferences over time, helping to customize your feed.

Alto Mail

iPhone and Android, Free

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AOL’s take on gussying up your email service has been around for a few years, but the app’s 2.0 version, launched in September 2016, makes an already smart take on email even smarter. The free app’s new dashboard scrapes all the important information from your emails — shopping receipts, tracking numbers, reservation information, and more — and puts it on virtual cards, for easy gleaning. The app can be used to put a more manageable face on almost any other email service, from IMAP to Gmail, and can also pile up your digital information in “stacks” of photos, files, bills, and other categories.

Houseparty

iPhone and Android, Free

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With a user-friendly way to stream video from a mobile phone to everyone in the world, Meerkat turned the Internet on its ear. But that app is so last year (to the point that it’s no longer operational) and in its place Meerkat’s developers have released Houseparty,  which is mainstreaming group video chats in almost the same way. Creating what it calls a “synchronous social network,” Houseparty basically lets people video chat with each other, up to eight people at a time. Open the free Android or iOS app, and you’re broadcasting in your own private video chat room.

Netflix’s Fast.com

Web app, Free

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With millions of users sucking down data at home, on mobile and over Wi-Fi, the Internet can be a very slow place. There are dozens of iOS and Android apps to measure your speeds, but they all seem to have an air of unreliability. Fast.com, a web app put out by Netflix, loads quicker than a Craigslist directory on whatever device, whichever operating system, and wherever you are. So from the boardroom, to the bathroom, to the backyard, you’ll always know if you’re down to download.

Nuzzel

iPhone and Android, Free

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Launched at the tail end of 2015, this free Android and iOS app is a vital app for keeping pace with Twitter’s endless stream of information. Syncing up with your social networks, Nuzzel keeps track of the most tweeted links by the accounts you follow and provides a roundup of all the associated tweets. Ideal for news hounds or anyone who closely follows trends on the Twitterverse, it’s become a must-use over the past 12 months.

Reddit

iPhone and Android, Free

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Unofficial Reddit apps existed before this year, but the official take makes the front page of the Internet even easier to use and browse than it is on a computer. Longtime Redditors may disagree (they’re never short on opinions), but the app’s intuitive interface is good for new users, making it easier to dive into topics and communities. The communications tab pulls messages, comments, replies and mentions into one place for quick access, and the main tab puts the web’s hottest content just taps away.

Sorcery! 4

iPhone and Android, $4.99

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The fourth and final installment in studio Inkle’s grand game-book series based on Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! adventures is an easy recommend for admirers of plain brilliant storytelling. No, you needn’t have played the first three, though the delights are that much brighter if you have. Want to see what a choose-your-own-adventure meets immaculate illustrations and artistry meets the opposite of tin-eared writing looks like? Start here.

Streaks

iPhone (with Apple Watch app), $3.99

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Bad habits may be hard to break, but good habits can be even harder to make. This app helps by giving users a gentle reminder ever day — whether its on your phone or your wrist — to develop up to six healthy routines. Pre-loaded with all sorts of activities from drinking more water to walking the dog (and with Apple Health integrations), it’ll help you do all the little things consistently and right. Streaks was launched in 2015, but the app was given a slick 2.0 makeover this year that was so good it garnered the app an Apple Design Award.

Tribe

iPhone and Android, Free

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There are a slew of Snapchat-like free video messaging apps on the market. And while they all jockey for position, Tribe does so with a new killer feature: Magic Words. Basically, when a user says a term in his or her video (like a band name, for example) that word — through some back-end Google speech recognition magic — appears on the screen, overlaid on the video as a clickable keyword. Is this enough to put it ahead of the camera-toting pack? It’s early to say for sure, but this one’s worth watching.

Google Allo

iPhone and Android, Free

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A new messaging app from Google, Allo is one of the first products to incorporate the firm’s new artificially intelligent aide, the Google Assistant. Allo has a few limitations — there aren’t any third-party apps and there’s no desktop companion, for instance. But Allo earns a spot on our list because of the potential of the Google Assistant. Right now, it’s pretty good at handling basic questions and surfacing recommendations within chats. But when and if it gets smarter, it could be truly brilliant.

Microsoft Pix

iPhone, Free

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Microsoft is pitching Pix as a replacement for the iPhone’s standard Camera app. Pix, which launched in July, uses artificial intelligence to recognize the subject of an image and adjust camera settings in real time. If you’re snapping a photo in well-lit conditions, it’ll create a GIF-like video loop when it detects motion. Unlike many other photo apps, Pix offers helpful enhancements rather than gimmicky features, all with little effort on the user’s part.

Picniic

iPhone, Free

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Picniic is a sort of Swiss Army Knife for keeping your family organized: it’s a shared to-do list, calendar, and event manager all in one. Within the app, users can assign tasks on the to-do list to specific family members and take note of the last time a certain family member was heard from. It’s a bit similar to another app called Cozi, but Picniic offers a few extras, including a newsfeed-style stream of updates and an encrypted storage locker for keeping personal family information.

Swift Playgrounds

iPhone, Free

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There are dozens of apps, games, and toys designed to help kids learn the building blocks of computer programming. But few of these apps do so by having players write lines of actual code, as Apple’s Swift Playgrounds does. The iPad app challenges participants to input strings of characters written in Apple’s Swift language to complete puzzles. Aspiring developers can also write their own code in a blank document and export it into Xcode, Apple’s software for creating apps. “We’re not hiding code, or running away from the fact that it is code,” Wiley Hodges, director of tools and technologies product marketing for Apple, previously told TIME about the app.



Pocket

iPhone and Android, Free

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When you see an article you want to read but don’t have time at the moment, you can save it to Pocket and savor it later. It downloads articles in a clean, readable format so you can read anything without an Internet connection. Add-ons for desktop browsers mean you can save stories from your work computer and read them on your way home.

Waze

iPhone and Android, Free

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Google Maps and Apple Maps are fine, but neither will make you the master of defeating traffic like Waze. Acquired by Google in 2013 for a reported $1.3 billion, Waze collects data about traffic jams, construction and other issues and displays them to other drivers in a given area. It’s also great at finding little-known shortcuts to save you precious minutes, mileage and gas money.

Reigns

iPhone and Android, $2.99

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Swipe left or right, that’s all there is to Reigns, an ingenious, dichotomous Tinder-like, only about ruling a kingdom instead of speed-dating. There are no roads less traveled, only left or right turns, yes or no answers to questions of medieval monarch-dom, as you attempt to balance your kingdom’s needs along idiosyncratic, ever-forking roads. If your idea of choose-your-own nirvana involves minimalist, binary survivalism (your goal is to stay alive), Reigns is one of the coolest stripped-down, rapid-play angles on the genre in years.

Super Stickman Golf 3

iPhone and Android, Free

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Golf and stickmen? Really? Unqualifiedly. It’s the adventurist allure of putt-putt, the ballistic physics of Angry Birds and the zany level design of 2D platformers like Super Mario Bros. rolled into one. After two forays to hone their ingenious little mashup, this is the iteration of Noodlecake Studios’ series to own, the one that brings it all together while adding the option to put English on the ball. Even if like me the thought of playing real golf makes you recoil, this is the stick-and-ball-swatting game for you.

Bandsintown

iPhone and Android, Free

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Ah, the time-old question: “Any good bands in town tonight?” Get your answer with Bandsintown, which analyzes your music listening habits and alerts you when your favorite performers are in your area.There’s also a calendar display that lets you check out who’s playing on a given date in case you’d prefer to check out something new for a change.

Insight Timer

iPhone and Android, Free

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Do away with the the stressful blare of your built-in phone buzzer. Insight Timer is really nothing more than a peaceful chime when time’s up, but we find ourselves using it for everything from signaling the end of a meditation session to the completion of roast chicken. Anything’s better than hearing Marimba for the millionth time.



Calorie Counter

iPhone and Android, Free

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It’s never easy to count calories, but MyFitnessPal’s Calorie Counter can be a handy helper. Just tell it what you’ve eaten in a given day, and it’ll let you know how many calories you’ve consumed. Tracking that data is an important part of losing weight, which, when it comes down to it, is about burning more calories than you’ve taken in.

Warbits

iPhone, $3.99

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Okay, sure, Warbits clearly cribs from classic turn-based strategy game Advance Wars (for Nintendo’s ancient Game Boy Advance, no less). But I can think of no higher praise to lavish on a game that fills a void over a decade wide and generations of overlooked platforms deep. Much more than a clone, Warbits takes the idea that teams of infantry, armor and aerial vehicles are squaring off over moderately sized squarish maps, then adds an online mode that’s pretty much the definition of how to do turn-based, 1v1 or 2v2 strategy on a phone.

Hitlist

iPhone, Free

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There are incredible airfare deals available and dozens of places we’d love to visit. But finding a reasonable deal takes far more time and effort than it should. Hitlist can help. It combines travel photography with airfare deals, letting you add appealing destinations to your watch list. Then you’ll get alerts when there’s an incredible price on flights.

Beam

iPhone and Android, Free

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Video game streaming apps like the Amazon-owned Twitch are getting extremely popular — Twitch users watched more than 241 billion minutes of content last year. So it’s not surprising to see younger companies getting in on the action. One of the newbies is Beam, which offers the unique twist of letting viewers impact the game. Audiences on Beam can suggest moves for players, give them challenges, and more. Microsoft acquired the company behind beam in August; it’s now integrating it directly into the Xbox platform.

PRISM

iPhone and Android, $2.99

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Prism has one of those un-self-aware taglines about “sacred geometry” converging with “the ethereal soul” you can just ignore, then get right to the heart of the matter: It’s a stirring, smart little shape-puzzler set to groovy, hypnotic tunes. Lines and dots you manipulate with your finger adorn shapes that unfurl like polyhedral flowers as you advance, uncloaking incandescent cores. The puzzles are diverting but accessible, ensuring you’ll hang around long enough to appreciate the experience’s gorgeous, trippy ambience.

Meditation Studio

iPhone, $3.99


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A well-designed gateway app to a serious daily meditation practice. Great for beginners, the app has more than 200 guided meditations of varying lengths organized around whatever you need—sleep, confidence, stress and anxiety relief—and it gives you a perfect little zen break wherever you are.

Source : time

Categorized in Science & Tech

A new app called Needed, now officially launching, wants to upgrade your mobile shopping list. Instead of turning to a simple note-taking app or to-do list, Needed aims to help you save on groceries by automatically searching for deals and sales that match the items on your list.

The idea is to help you shop smarter locally, however – Needed doesn’t focus on online stores, or on-demand grocery delivery services.

Instead, Needed looks at the local circulars for stores like CVS, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Kmart, Winn-Dixie, Big Lots, Sears, Best Buy, Macy’s, Haverty’s Crate & Barrel, Save-a-Lot, for example, some of which carry groceries, while others only carry household items that may also match things on your list.

To use the app, you can either enter in products manually or just general descriptions like “cereal,” or you can scroll through a tappable list of the most commonly shopped-for goods. These are organized into color-coded sections like Bakery, Dairy, Fruits & Vegetables, Health & Beauty, Meat & Seafood, Snacks, and many more.

And while Needed is primarily focused on grocery shopping, there’s also a section for Electronics where you can enter in a custom item in order to get updates about matching deals.

Once your list is complete, each items will indicate how many nearby deals are available, and you can tap to view the store’s ad.

For serious value-hunters, the app could help you more easily access the paper circulars that many of us no longer receive since we cancelled our newspaper subscriptions years prior.

The app emerged from location-based mobile ad platform Retale, as part of its “App Lab” initiative, which is a new unit at the company focused on creating standalone mobile shopping experiences. This is the group’s first product, says Retale, whose flagship shopping app has seen over 40 million downloads to date worldwide.

Essentially, Needed is repurposing Retale’s technology, which also delivers the weekly ads to your smartphone or tablet in a digital format.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t see relying on Needed alone to make shopping trips productive. While the Retale platform is used by 5,200 of the world’s top retailers, the company says, when I tested the app it failed to load up deals from two top local stores, Target and Publix. This is odd, given that Target is one of the retailers that supposedly works with Retale – but its ad isn’t showing in the Needed app or on Retale’s website.

Regardless as to why that’s the case, the end result is that there’s a weekly ad out there – and maybe several – that aren’t popping up in Needed. That means you’re not seeing all the deals.

However, if you primarily shop at one of the supported stores, like Walmart, Needed could be an easier way to shop for savings without having to plow through the paper ad.

According to the app stores, the app has actually been live for some time, but the company is only now making its debut public following testing.

Needed is a free download on iOS and Android.

Source : techcrunch

Categorized in Science & Tech

Google officially launched its widely anticipated messaging app, Allo, last September.

The App is poised to become a major competitor of the popular WhatsApp and iMessage.

However, former NSA contractor and whistleblower, Edward Snowden has informed smartphone users to avoid the app due to a number of privacy concerns.

Edward Snowden strongly feels that the smart messaging app could be a honeypot for government surveillance efforts.

It is important to note that Edward Snowden is not the only that holds the same opinion on Google’s new app.

In order to understand the basis of Snowden’s sentiments, one has to understand the nuances of the messaging app.

What is Allo

Google Allo is an instant smart messaging mobile phone app designed for Android and iOS platforms.

The app was announced in May this year at Google I/O developer conference.

As promised, Google launched the app officially on the 21st September.

Among the main features of the app include a virtual assistant and the “smart reply” feature.

The smart reply function was developed to facilitate the delivery of fast conversations.

Through artificial intelligence and complex algorithms, the app is able to recognize and analyze the user’s responses.

It collects and stores this data over time and utilizing it to guess users’ responses which it then suggests.

This data may also be kept for formulation of personalized ads. As such, it is possible to use the app without even typing.

The problem with the app and that which Edward Snowden and others are worried about is this collection of user data.

Google also has a part in fueling these sentiments about their messaging app.

When the company first announced the messaging app in May, they assured users that the app’s “Incognito Mode” should cause no worries about privacy concerns.

At the time, Google stated that Allo employs high-end encryption and the messages users send and receive would be stored transiently, rather than permanently.

However, last September’s announcement was different and revealed that the default mode of the app would result in indefinite storage of user messages.

This issue does not sit well with Edward Snowden and many other smartphone users.

It does raise some questions about Google’s promise to delete user messages. Compounding the situation is the fact that Google failed to formally announce this critical change.

The Main Basis of Edward Snowden’s Fears

As it currently stands, Allo users who fail to switch to Incognito Mode bear the risk of having their messages retained.

This could potentially provide fresh farming grounds for government surveillance, something that Edward Snowden is all too familiar with.

As with most chat apps, Allo uses HTTPS as a means to secure transmission between devices.

What this means is the data is safe from most hackers.

However, it is not safe from people with respective clearance to Google’s data centers.

Government agencies can also access this information using a subpoena.

Edward Snowden has always pointed out that subpoenas are not that hard to get.

The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approves almost all subpoenas requested by the FBI and NSA.

When Allo is compared to WhatsApp in terms of user privacy, the latter comes out on top.

Conversations in WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted,, and government agencies cannot access them even upon request.

What Allo Users Can Do

Individuals who still want to use Google’s Allo despite Edward Snowden’s warnings can do so privately and securely by learning about the Incognito Mode. VPNs can also help.

In this mode, users will not be able to preview their message in the conversation list.

Also, the chats are end-to-end encrypted and will only be seen by the sender and recipient.

Google will not be able to read any of the messages, so the smart replay and Google assistant features are unavailable in Incognito Mode. Users can set their messages to expire.

Edward Snowden’s views are definitely founded on a considerable basis.

As such, the decision of smartphone users to adopt Google’s messaging app boils down to choice.

They will have to choose between limited compromise to their privacy and improved app usability.

Source : darkwebnews

Categorized in Search Engine

Siri, Cortana and Alexa are virtual assistants with female personas — though Siri can be a man, too. Until today, Google voice search didn’t have an identity or persona, though it has a female voice.

That is changing with theofficial rollout of Google Home. For the launch of Home, Google took its voice search capabilities and added a persona. So instead of calling Google’s spoken results Google Now, Ok Google or Google voice search, it/she will now be the “Google Assistant,” which is not quite a human-sounding name, but better and more descriptive than Google Now.

Like Amazon, Google will have devices (e.g., Home, Pixel phones) and products (e.g., Allo) that feature the Assistant the way Amazon has the Echo and Echo Dot, powered by Alexa. All this waspreviewed at Google I/Othis summer. You can interact with the Assistant in more limited form today in Google’s new messaging app, Allo.

This summer, it appeared that Google wasn’t going to use the name “Assistant” for its Google Home voice persona or as a consumer-facing product name. However, it appears the company changed its mind over the past several months. (The assistant will launch as female, but over time, it will offer more voices and potentially, personas.)

According to Ryan Germick, who led the Google Doodles team and helped develop the Assistant’s personality, Google Assistant should be thought of as a kind of friendly companion, “Always there but never in the way; her primary job is to be helpful.”

Like Siri, Cortana and Alexa, Google Assistant will tell jokes and have conversational features to “humanize” and make Google “more approachable.” One of the advantages that Google has with the Assistant over its rivals is its search index and knowledge graph. However, Germick said that there may be instances where Google Home will not provide a result, other than reading back a list of search results.

Germick explained that in creating the Assistant’s personality, Google utilized “storytellers” from Pixar and The Onion, among others, to craft scripted answers to a broad range of questions. Presumably, this is where the humor will show up. However, over time, there may also be “AI jokes” (We’ll see).

“Fun in, fun out,” Germick added. That means users will need to prompt the Assistant for jokes or snark, which won’t happen unsolicited. But that’s apparently happening quite a bit in Allo (e.g., “What is the meaning of life?”).

Germick called the Google Assistant a “beautiful marriage of technology and scripting.” The proof will be in the user experience — though what we saw demoed today was impressive to me — and undoubtedly, we’ll see numerous side-by-side comparisons of the Google Assistant with its competitors when Home formally comes out November 4. (Apple isalso rumoredto be working on a standalone Siri-powered smart home device.)

For now, we have the video released at I/O, showcasing the Google Home user experience.

Source : searchengineland

Categorized in Search Engine

Ads go live October 5 -- Apple is offering $100 credit toward the first campaign.

After a beta period that began in June, Apple is now opening up Search Ads for the App Store to all publishers and developers. It’s currently available for the iPhone and iPad only in the US.

While Apple will certainly make money from this program, the main rationale appears to be app discovery. Google has had search ads in the Play store for well over a year.

Search Ads will be delineated with a blue background. Apple will generate the ad images and copy from the app metadata supplied by the publisher or developer, so there’s no ad copy per se. It appears there will only be one ad per search.

apple-rolls

Developers set a max daily budget and an overall campaign budget. Apple’s Search Ads use the familiar “second price auction” to set winning bid prices. Apple says that relevance and bid price will determine which ads show. (Developers will pay on a “cost per tap” basis.)

Search Ads allow for bidding on the iPhone or iPad individually. There’s a keyword suggestion tool, with popularity indicators and negative keyword capabilities. There are audience targeting features, including customer type (e.g., has not downloaded) gender, age and location. And of course there are analytics.

search ads

App store search is the dominant way that apps are discovered. However, other discovery channels are now growing in relative importance, according to comScore.

Beyond this, comScore says that roughly 50 percent of smartphone owners don’t download any new apps in a given month, while the average user downloads two apps per month.

app store

Search Ads will go live in the App Store on October 5. Developers also receive a $100 credit for the first campaign.

 

Source : Search Engine Land

Categorized in Science & Tech

TechCrunch reports that a week or so ago, Apple updated their App Store search algorithm, and the rankings of many apps for many keywords have changed.

Sarah Perez said, “[A]round a week ago, it appears that Apple yet again tweaked the way its rankings worked, but this time around, the changes have only impacted a subset of iPad app developers in the US App Store.”

My company has several apps, and I noticed ranking changes, some positive and some negative, for our key apps in both iPhone and iPad App Store searches.

The TechCrunch story shared several charts and examples of tools showing ranking changes across apps as large as Facebook, and also to other smaller apps.

Here is one example from the story:

Facebook’s iPad app offers a good example of the change, as its app moved from a #2 position in “Social Networking” and a #7 ranking “Overall” the day before, down to #4 and #24, respectively, on Friday, and then it crashed to #38 in “Social Networking” and a practically invisible #858 “Overall” by Monday.

The app’s download ranking has since begun climbing back up, reaching again #2 in “Social Networking” and #9 “Overall” by mid-week.

app-store-ranking-changes

You can see other examples and more details at TechCrunch.

 

Source : http://searchengineland.com/

Categorized in Science & Tech

In part two of a three-part series on app indexing, contributors Emily Grossman and Cindy Krum explore how Google indexes deep app content and explains what marketers can do to promote their app content in Google search.

In this article, you’ll learn how Google is surfacing deep app content and how SEOs can prepare iOS and Android deep app screens for Google’s index. Google is making significant moves to close the gap between app and Web content to make mobile interaction more seamless, and that theme will reappear throughout the analysis.

This is the second installment in a three-part series about app indexing strategies and deep linking opportunities. The first article focused on Apple’s new Search API for iOS 9, which encourages and incentivizes an app-centric mobile experience.

Today’s column, co-authored with Cindy Krum, will focus on how Google indexes deep app screens and what marketers can do to promote their app content in Google search. Google’s app indexing strategies differ significantly from Apple’s, and it’s important for marketers to understand the distinctions.

The third article in this series will focus on future app indexing challenges we will face with the growth of wearables and other non-standard device apps and device indexes.

App Indexing In Google

Historically, app landing pages on websites have been in the Google index — but actual apps andinternal app screens have not. Because crawling and indexing in-app content was impossible untilrecently, users had to discover new apps via an app store (Google Play or iTunes), which surfaces apps according to app meta data and editorial groupings instead of in-app content. For digital marketers, internal app content has been unavailable for search — part of what Marshall Simmonds calls “dark search.”

This situation has created a two-fold problem for Google:

  1. App stores had trained users away from using Google for app discovery; and
  2. App developers were historically not incentivized to optimize internal app data for search. This limited Google’s mission to collect and organize the world’s data, which in turn limited its ability to make money.

Now that Google is indexing both app landing pages and deep screens in apps, Google’s app rankings fall into two basic categories, App Packs and App Deep Links. App Packs are much more like the app search results that SEOs are used to, because they link to app download pages in Google Play or the App Store, depending on the device that you are searching from. (App Packs will only show apps that are compatible with your device’s OS.)

Ranking in an App Pack (and also in the Apps Universal, under Google’s top-navigation drop-down in the mobile search results) relies heavily on the app title, description, star ratings and reviews, and it will differ greatly from the internal app store rankings, as well as in-app indexing strategies described in the rest of this article.

Deep links are different because they link to specific deep screens within an app. Google has displayed deep links in search results in a variety of ways since it started app indexing, but there are a couple of standard deep link displays (shown below) that seem more common than others. Some deep-linked results look no different from traditional blue links for websites, while other deep link search results contain more attractive visual elements like colored “install” buttons, app icons and star ratings.

google-deep-link-types-serps.jpg

We believe that the most common deep link in the future will display the app icon and a small “open on domain.com” button because that allows users to choose between the deep app link and the Web link without an additional dialogue screen. (Currently, the dialogue screen from other types of deep links comes from the bottom of the browser window and says, “Would you like to open this in Chrome or in the [Brand Name] app?”)

It is important to note that aspects of the search context, like the mobile browser, can limit the visibility of deep links. For example, Google only supports app indexing on iOS inside the Google and Chrome apps, not in Mobile Safari, the default Web browser on iOS. It seems likely that Safari will be updated to allow for Google’s deep linking behaviors as part of the iOS 9 update, but it is not confirmed.

Similarly, Google has been experimenting with a “Basic” mobile search results view that omits rich content for searchers with slow carrier connections. “Basic” search results do not include App Packs at all (since downloading an app would not be attractive to people with slow connections), and deep link results will only show as inline blue links, without images, star ratings, icons or buttons.

These are important stipulations to keep in mind as we allocate time and budget to optimizing app indexing, but the benefits of Google app indexing are not limited to surfacing deep app screens in Google search results.

Why Is App Indexing Important For SEO?

Without apps in its index, Google was missing a huge piece of the world’s data. The new ability to index iOS and Android apps has fundamentally changed app discovery and dramatically changed mobile SEO strategies.

Now that Google’s search engine can process and surface deep app content in a similar fashion to the way it does Web content, Google search has a significant advantage over the app stores. It is still the #1 Search Engine in the world, so it can easily expose content to more potential customers than any app store could, but it can also integrate this new app content with other Google properties like Google Now, Inbox/Gmail and Google Maps.

This change has also added a whole new host of competitors to the mobile search result pages. Now, not only can app landing pages rank, but internal app screens can also compete for the same rankings.

Google’s official position at the moment is that Web parity is necessary for deep app indexing (i.e., crawlable Web content that matched the indexable app content), but at Google I/O, the company clarified that they are working on a non-parity app indexing solution. They have even started promoting an “app only interest form,” and recent live testing has reinforced the idea that apps without parity will soon be added to the index (if they haven’t been already).5457989_app-indexing--the-new-frontier-of-seo_tf23002f4.jpg

This is a big deal, so SEOs should be wary of underestimating the potential market implications of Google indexing apps without Web parity. For marketers and SEOs, it means that mobile search results could soon be flooded with new and attractive competition on a massive scale — content that they never have had to compete with before.

Let’s do a bit of math to really understand the implications.

We’ll start with a broad assumption that there are roughly 24,000 travel apps, a third of which lack Web parity. If each app contains an average of just 1,000 screens (and travel apps often include many more than that), we’re looking at roughly 8,000,000 new search results with which travel websites must compete — and that’s in the travel industry alone. That is huge!

Games, the biggest app category in both stores, promises to create an even bigger disruption in mobile search results, as it is a category that has a very high instance of apps without Web parity.

Another subtle indication of the importance of app indexing is the name change from “Google Webmaster Tools” to “Google Search Console.” Historically, webmasters and SEOs have used Google Webmaster Tools to manage and submit website URLs to Google’s index. We believe the renamed Google Search Console will eventually do the same things for both Web and apps (and possibly absorb the Google Play Console, where Android apps have been managed). In light of that, removing the “Web” reference from the old “Webmaster Tools” name makes a lot of sense.

A similar sentiment by John Mueller, from Google, is noted below, and possibly hints at the larger plan:

John-Mueller-on-Google-Plus.jpg

How Does Google Rank Deep Links?

Like everything else, Google has an algorithm to determine how an indexed deep link should rank in search results. As usual, much about Google’s ranking algorithm is unknown, but we’ve pieced together some of the signals they have announced and inferred a few others. Here’s what we currently believe to be true about how Google is ranking deep links in Google Search:

Known Positive Ranking Factors

  • Installation Status. Android apps are more prominently featured in Google search results when they are installed on a user’s device or have been in the past. Rather than checking the device, Google keeps track of app downloads in their cloud-based user history, so this only affects searchers when they are signed into Google.
  • Proper Technical Implementation. The best way app publishers can drive rankings,according to Mariya Moeva of Google, is to “ensure that the technical implementation of App Indexing is correct and that your content is worth it.” She later elaborated in a YouTube video, explaining that app screens with technical implementation errors will not be indexed at all. (So start befriending the app development team!)
  • Website Signals (title tags, description tags). Traditional SEO elements in the <head> tag of the associated Web page will display in deep link search results, and thus are also likely ranking factors for the deep links. In fact, good SEO on corresponding Web pages is critical, since Google considers the desktop Web version of the page as the canonical indexing of the content.

Known Negative Ranking Factors

  • Content Mismatch. Google will not index app screens that claim to correspond with a Web page but don’t provide enough of the same information. Google will report these “mismatch errors” in Google Search Console, so you can determine which screens need to be better aligned with their corresponding Web pages.
  • Interstitials. Interstitials are JavaScript banners that appear over the content of a website, similar to pop-ups but without generating a new browser window. The same experience can be included in apps (most often for advertisements), but this has been discouraged by both Apple and Google. In her recent Q&A with Stone Temple Consulting, Mariya Moeva implied that app interstitials are a negative ranking factor for deep links (and said to stay tuned for more information soon). Interstitials can also prevent Google from matching your app screen content to your Web page content, which could cause “Content Mismatch Errors” that prevent Google from indexing the app screen entirely. In either case, app and Web developers should stay away from interstitials and instead, opt for banners that just move content down on the screen. Both Apple and Google have endorsed their own form of app install banners and even offer app banner code templates that can be used to promote a particular app from the corresponding mobile website.

Apart from ranking on their own, app deep links can also provide an SEO benefit for websites. Google has said that indexed app deep links are a positive ranking factor for their associated Web pages, and preliminary studies have shown that Web pages can expect an average site-wide lift of .29 positions when deep link markup is in place.

Also, App Packs and App Carousels tend to float to the top of a mobile SERP (likely ranking as a group rather than ranking independently). Presence in these results increases exposure and eliminates a position that a competitor could occupy lower down in the organic rankings, since these “Packs” and “Carousels” take up spaces that would be previously held by websites.

Indexed Android apps will also get added exposure in the next release of the Android operating system, Android M. It includes a feature called “Now on Tap,” which represents a deeper integration of Google Now with the rest of the Android phone functionality. Android M allows Google to scan text on an Android user’s screen while in any app, then interpret a “context” from the on-screen text, infer potential queries and automatically display mobile applications that could assist the user with those inferred queries.

For example, a WhatsApp conversation about dinner plans could pull up a “Now on Tap” interface that suggests deep links to specific screens in OpenTable, Google Maps and Yelp. This only works for deep-linked app screens in Google’s index, but for those apps, it will likely drive significantly higher engagement and potentially more installs. From a strategic perspective, this adds another potential location to surface your content, beyond the mobile search results.

While Google will only surface apps they have indexed, they plan on crawling on-screen text inall apps, trying to perceive context for “Now on Tap.” Google doesn’t provide any opt-in mechanism, so Android apps that are not indexed for Google search can still be crawled to trigger a “Now on Tap” experience. This means that Google is essentially reserving the right to send users away from your app to a different app that has relevant screens in the index, but also that Google is allowing your app to “steal” users away from other apps if your app screens are in the index.

This could provide nearly limitless opportunities for “Now on Tap” to suggest apps to Android users, and the “rogue crawling” aspect of it reinforces our prediction that Google will soon be crawling, indexing and surfacing app screens that don’t have Web parity. This will make Google’s app indexing an even more important strategy for Android apps, especially once Android M is widely adopted.

The app rankings advantage is pushed to the next level when you understand that Google is intentionally giving preference to app results for certain queries. In some cases, being an indexed app may be the only way to rank at the top in mobile Google search. Keywords like “games” and “editor” are a common trigger for App Packs and App Carousels, but Google is also prominently surfacing apps for queries that seem to be associated with utilities or verbs (e.g., “flight tracker,” “restaurant finder,” or “watch tv”). And when the App Packs or Carousels appear, they often push the blue links below the fold (and sometimes way below the fold).

At the end of the day, for some queries, a blue link may not ever beat the “Packs” — in which case, the best strategy may be to focus on App Pack listings over deep links.

How Can I Get Deep App Screens Indexed For Google Search?

Setting up app indexing for Android and iOS Apps is pretty straightforward and well-documented by Google. Conceptually, it is a three-part process:

  1. Enable your app to handle deep links.
  2. Add code to your corresponding Web pages that references deep links.
  3. Optimize for private indexing.

These steps can be taken out of order if the app is still in development, but the second step iscrucial; without it, your app will be set up with deep links but will not be set up for Google indexing, so the deep links will not show up in Google Search.

NOTE: iOS app indexing is still in limited release with Google, so there is a special form submission and approval process even after you have added all the technical elements to your iOS app. That being said, the technical implementations take some time. By the time your company has finished, Google may have opened up indexing to all iOS apps, and this cumbersome approval process may be a thing of the past.

Following are the steps for Google deep-link indexing. (For a PDF version of the instructions, click here.)

Step 1: Add Code To Your App That Establishes The Deep Links

A. Pick A URL Scheme To Use When Referencing Deep Screens In Your App

App URL schemes are simply a systematic way to reference the deep linked screens within an app, much like a Web URL references a specific page on a website.

In iOS, developers are currently limited to using Custom URL Schemes, which are formatted in a way that is more natural for app design but different from Web.

In Android, you can choose from either HTTP URL schemes (which look almost exactly like Web URLs) or Custom URL Schemes, or you can use both. If you have a choice and can only support one type of URL Scheme on Android, choose HTTP.

app-URL-scheme-deep-links-800x247

B. Support That App’s URL Schemes In The App

Since iOS and Android apps are built in different frameworks, different code must be added to the app to enable the deep link URL Schemes to work within the specific framework.

support-app-URL-schemes-800x438

C. Set Up CocoaPods

CocoaPods is a dependency management tool for iOS. It acts as a translation layer between iOS apps and the Google SDKs, so it is only necessary in iOS apps. Google has moved all its libraries to CocoaPods, and this will now be the only supported way to source them in an iOS app.

set-up-cocoapods-800x139

NOTE: Developers who have never worked with CocoaPods may have to rework how they currently handle all dependent libraries in the app, because once CocoaPods is installed, it is harder and more complicated to handle other non-CocoaPods libraries. There are some iOS developers who favor CocoaPods and have been using them for some time, so your app may already be working with CocoaPods. If that’s true, prepping for iOS app indexing will be much easier.

D. Enable The Back Bar

iOS devices don’t come equipped with a hardware or persistent software “back” button, so Apple and Google have built workarounds to make inter-app back navigation easier. Google requires that iOS apps recognize an additional GSD Custom URL Scheme (that was set up in Step 1B). Google only uses this to trigger a “back” bar in the iOS app.

Google will generate the GSD Custom URLs automatically when someone clicks on an iOS deep link from a search result page, so we don’t need to generate new GSD deep links for every screen; we just need to support the format in the Info.plist file and add code that will communicate with the “GoogleAppIndexing” Pod when a GSD link is received by the app.

enable-back-bar

NOTE: Google’s solution is similar to Apple’s iOS 9 “Back to Search” buttons that display in the upper left portion of the phone’s Status Bar, but when it is triggered, it appears as a blue “Back Bar” that hovers over the entire phone Status Bar. The Back Bar will disappear after a short period of time if the user does not tap on it. This “disappearing” behavior also represents a unique experience for iOS deep linking in Google, since after a certain period of time, there won’t be a way for iOS users to get back to the Google Search results without switching apps manually, by clicking through the home screen. Developers compensate by adopting more tactics that pull users deeper into the app, eat up time, and distract the user from going back to Google Search until the bar disappears.

E. Set Up Robots & Google Play/Google Search Consoles

In some cases, it may make sense to generate deep links for an app screen but prevent it from showing up in search results. In Android, Google allows us to provide instructions about which screens we would like indexed for search and which we would not, but no similar mechanism is available for iOS.

Digital marketers and SEOs should use the Google Play Console and the Google Search Console to help connect your app to your website and manage app indexation. Also, double check that your website’s robots.txt file allows access to Googlebot, since it will be looking for the Web aspect of the deep links in its normal crawls.

set-up-robots-google-play

Step 2: Add Code To Your Website That References The URL Schemes You Set Up In The App

A. Format & Validate Web Deep Links For The Appropriate App Store

Google’s current app indexing process relies on Googlebot to discover and index deep links from a website crawl. Code must be added to each Web page that references a corresponding app screen.

When marking up your website, a special deep link format must be used to encode the app screen URL, along with all of the other information Google needs to open a deep link in your app. The required formatting varies slightly for Android and iOS apps and is slightly different from the URL Schemes used in the app code, but they do have some elements in common.

The {scheme} part of the link always refers to the URL scheme set up in your app in Step 1, and the {host_path} is the part of the deep link that identifies the specific app screen being referenced, like the tail of a URL. Other elements vary, as shown below:

validate-web-deep-link

B. Add Web Deep Links To Web Pages With Corresponding App Screens

Internal app screens can be indexed when Googlebot finds deep app links in any of the following locations on your website:

  • In a rel=”alternate” in the HTML <head>
  • In a rel=”alternate” in the XML sitemap
  • In Schema.org ViewAction markup

Sample code formatting for each of those indexing options is included below:

rel-sample-code

xml-sitemap-sample-code-800x416

schema-sample-code-800x355

Step 3: Optimize For Private Indexing

Both Google and Apple have a “Private” indexing feature that allows individual user behaviors to be associated with specific screens in an app. App activity that is specific to one user can be indexed on that users’ phone, for private consumption only (e.g., a WhatsApp message you’ve viewed or an email you’ve opened in Mailbox).

Activities that are Privately indexed do not generate deep links that can surface in a public Google search result, but instead generate deep links that surface in other search contexts. For Android apps, this is in Chrome’s autocomplete and Google Now; for iOS, this is in Spotlight, Siri, or Safari’s Spotlight Suggest results.

optimize-private-indexing-800x294

NOTE: Google’s documentation seems to indicate that Activities are only used for private indexing, but Google may also use them as a measurement of engagement for more global evaluations of an app (as Apple does with NSUserActivities in Apple Search). Google has not highlighted their private indexing feature as vocally as Apple, and a user’s private index can be accessed from the Phone icon in the bottom navigation of the Google Now app on Android and iOS. Currently, only Google’s apps (like Gmail) are able to surface privately indexed content in organic Google search results, but we suspect this will be opened up to third-party apps in the future.

Concluding Remarks

App indexing and deep linking are changing the digital marketing landscape and dramatically altering the makeup of organic mobile search results. They are emerging from the world of “dark search” and becoming a force to be reckoned with in SEO.

Marketers and SEOs can either look at these changes as a threat — another hurdle to overcome — or a new opportunity to get a leg up over the competition. Those who wish to stay on the cutting edge of digital marketing will take heed and learn how to optimize non-HTML content like apps in all of the formats and locations where they surface.

That being said, relying on app deep links alone to drive Google search engine traffic is still not an option. Traditional SEO and mobile SEO are still hugely important for securing a presence in Google’s mobile searches. Google still considers desktop websites the ultimate canonical for keyword crawling and indexing, and the search engine relies heavily on website parity because its strength is still crawling and indexing Web content.

The next big app indexing questions are all about apps that lack Web parity. Google does not currently use a roaming app crawler to discover deep links themselves, but we feel confident that this will change. Google’s App Indexing API currently only helps surface Android apps in autocomplete, but we believe in the future, it will help surface apps that don’t have Web parity.

Calling the system an “App Indexing API” seems to allude to a richer functionality than just adding app auto-complete functionality — and Google’s original app indexing documentation from April also indicated a more robust plan.

As shown in the diagram below, the original documentation explained that developers could use the App Indexing API (also referred to here as “Search Suggest,” which is different from the Search Suggest API) to notify Google of deep links “with or without corresponding Web pages.” That line has since been removed from the documentation, but the implication is clear: Google is paving the way for indexing apps without Web parity. Until that happens, traditional website optimization will remain a key component of optimizing app content for Google search, but when app screens can be indexed without Web parity, there will be a whole new set of ranking factors to consider and optimize for.

App-Indexing-Documentation-800x369

As we charge into this new frontier, the immediate benefits of app indexing are clear, but the newness may require a small leap of faith for more traditional marketers and SEOs.

Some may be left suspicious, with many questions: How long will Google provide a ranking benefit for deep-linked content? Will this be perceived as a “bait and switch,” like the Mobile Friendly update? Will app ranking factors evolve to include more traditional Web page ranking factors (like links and social signals)? Will Google begin to crawl app content more indiscriminately, using deep app links like Web links? Will Google develop a new app-specific crawler, or was the algorithm change on April 21 (aka “Mobilegeddon“) really this — that apps are already being crawled, rendered and evaluated by the smartphone crawler, just the same as Web?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source : http://searchengineland.com/

Categorized in Search Engine

It’s ridiculously simple and amazingly successful.

Bottle Flip 2k16 is an app that requires you to flip a virtual water bottle so it lands back on its base. See if you can do it 10 times in a row.

Uh, that’s about it.

Much to the astonishment and delight of the four Western University engineering students who created it, Bottle Flip 2k16 has been downloaded three million times since it was released last month and has shot to the top of iTunes game apps in Canada and the United States.

In the ultra-competitive app market it was something of a coin toss, or rather a bottle toss.

“Sometimes you just throw stuff at a dartboard and hope something sticks,” Justin Lam said.

The game is free to download and the only revenue stream comes from a small ad on the screen.

But that has been enough to make a lot of money for Lam, Aidan Sabourin, Danny Loo and Armin Gurdic.

How much? They’re not saying.

But they’re wearing the ear-to-ear grins of lottery winners.

It’s not an original idea. It was sparked by a silly video posted in May of a high school student flipping a bottle at a talent show.

The video went viral and prompted scores of imitators.

Sabourin was at a cottage in early August when he saw the videos and came up with the idea for an online game.

He approached Lam, Loo and Gurdic who formed a partnership to write the code and create the game within a few weeks.

The quartet wasn’t even the first to market with a bottle flip app. But they soon shot to the top, blowing past competitors.

“It’s simple and well-designed, no frills. The others were trying to do too much,” Lam said.

Momentum is everything in the app market, Sabourin said. Bottle Flip 2k16 was in the right place at the right time.

In just over a month, the game has caught the attention of international tech websites and magazines.

But the four partners are also aware the online world has a short attention span and apps can fade fast.

Although Gurdic is the only one to major in software, the four partners are working with Propel, a startup incubator at Western, to set up a new company.

“We want to create a brand. We want to build on this and do other apps,” Lam said.

twitter.com/HankatLFPress

Source : http://www.lfpress.com/

Categorized in Others

Bing's making it easier to find song titles, as well as add Netflix and Amazon movie titles to your watchlist on mobile.

Bing has released new updates to its search app for iOS and Android, adding new music and video features, along with more map options.

The updated version 6.7.2 Bing search app will now play a video without sound directly in search results with the lyrics listed below the video — a feature that has been available on Bing desktop. The app also includes a new Music page listing trending songs and artists.

Bing search app update

According to a report on the Android Community website, Bing’s search app can also give the title to a song being played: “In case you’re looking for a specific song, you can use the Bing Search app by typing the name of the song or if something is playing, it will tell you what it is.”

In addition to updates around music, users can add movie titles to their Netflix and Amazon Prime watch lists from the app’s Movies page.

Bing has also added the option for users to pick their preferred map app for directions.

Other updates include a refreshed “reading mode” to make news pages “more enjoyable” and the ability to sign in with your Microsoft account to see search history on other logged-in devices.

Source : http://searchengineland.com/bing-search-app-ios-android-gets-new-music-video-map-features-257647

Categorized in Search Engine

TinEye and Google Image Search are both good for doing reverse image searches, and the two websites are different enough to be complementary. But there are other options including browser extensions and smartphone apps....

There are lots of reasons for using reverse image search - see my earlier post, Here's why you and your business should use reverse image search - and quite a few ways to do it. The main ones are the TinEye and Google Image Search websites, both of which are free. Depending on your location, needs and personal preferences, you might also want to try Baidu, Yandex, Bing Image Match, Image Raider or some other service.

But if you're new to reverse image searching, I suggest you start with TinEye and Google. I use both, because they are different enough to complement one another. TinEye has better features. Google Image Search generally has a bigger, fresher database, though it doesn't find all the images that TinEye knows about.

Basically, TineEye has the smart guys while Google has the web crawlers.

TinEye wins mainly on sorting features. You can order TinEye's results by newest first or oldest first, by size, by the best match, or by the most changed. I'm often trying to find the oldest version posted, to authenticate a particular photograph.

TinEye's results often show a variety of closely related images, because some versions have been edited or adapted. Sometimes you find your searched-for picture is a small part of a larger image, which is very useful: you can switch to searching for the whole thing. TinEye is also good at finding versions of images that haven't had logos added, which is another step closer to the original.

The main drawback with TinEye is that some of the search results are a couple of years old, and when you follow the link, either the image or the page or even the whole website has disappeared. In such cases, I use the TinEye result to run a Google Image search.

Google Image Search finds web pages rather than images. If you're doing a reverse image search, it's usually more useful to look for the link that says "Find other sizes of this image" and click on "All sizes".

By default, Google displays the most exact matches in descending order of size, and the links to the sources are hidden until you click an image. You can try to make it work more like TinEye by selecting "Visually similar" from the drop-down menu, but this includes images that have nothing at all to do with the original. For most purposes, this is a waste of time.

Worse, Google can't sort images by date. As with text searches, you get options such as "Past week" and "Custom range", but these are tedious to use, and don't seem very reliable.

However, Google does some very good things that TinEye doesn't. The key features are search by type (Face, Photo, Line drawing etc) and search by usage rights. It's very useful to be able to search for images that are "labelled for reuse with modification" or "labelled for non-commercial reuse" or whatever. Handled with care, this could be a money-saver.

With a bit of experiment, some combination of TinEye and Google Image Search should meet most of your needs. If not, there are other options.

I generally use the browser extensions for TinEye and Google. These perform a reverse image search when you right-click an online image and select "search [service] with this image" or something similar. This is quicker than uploading an image from a hard drive or pasting in a web link, though you can do those things too.

Browser extensions include Google's Search by Image for Google (Chrome, Firefox), TinEye Reverse Image Search (Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer), and Bing Image Match (Chrome). Third-party options include Google Reverse Image Search (Firefox, not written by Google), Search Image by Bing (Firefox, not written by Microsoft) and Who stole my pictures? (Firefox). You may be able to find more. I haven't tried all of them.

Apple iPhone users can do reverse image searches with apps such as Veracity and Microsoft's official Bing app. There's also a Search By Image app for Android. Of course, you can also use Google Image Search in the Chrome browser on a smartphone. Press and hold the image, and when the box appears, touch "Search Google for this image".

Finally, there's a useful image search engine for Reddit, called Karma Decay. If you use Reddit, you will know that some amusing images are reposted on a regular basis. Karma Decay finds them all.

This is more useful than it sounds. Redditors comment on most of these images, and their comments often include links to sources and sometimes explanations. If you are, like me, trying to authenticate images, these links and comments can save quite a lot of work.

http://www.zdnet.com/article/reverse-image-searching-made-easy/

Categorized in Search Engine

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