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As Google continues to invest in machine learning technology to help it better understand and parse user queries, columnist Eric Enge emphasizes the need for marketers to continuously improve content quality and user satisfaction.

Back in August, I posited the concept of a two-factor ranking model for SEO. The idea was to greatly simplify SEO for most publishers and to remind them that the finer points of SEO don’t matter if you don’t get the basics right. This concept leads to a basic ranking model that looks like this:

ranking score

To look at it a little differently, here is a way of assessing the importance of content quality:

chances of ranking

The reason that machine learning is important to this picture is that search engines are investing heavily in improving their understanding of language. Hummingbird was the first algorithm publicly announced by Google that focused largely on addressing an understanding of natural language, and RankBrain was the next such algorithm.

I believe that these investments are focused on goals such as these:

  1. Better understanding user intent
  2. Better evaluating content quality

We also know that Google (and other engines) are interested in leveraging user satisfaction/user engagement data as well. Though it’s less clear exactly what signals they will key in on, it seems likely that this is another place for machine learning to play a role.

Today, I’m going to explore the state of the state as it relates to content quality, and how I think machine learning is likely to drive the evolution of that.

Content quality improvement case studies

A large number of the sites that we see continue to under-invest in adding content to their pages. This is very common with e-commerce sites. Too many of them create their pages, add the products and product descriptions, and then think they are done. This is a mistake.

 

For example, adding unique user reviews specific to the products on the page is very effective. At Stone Temple, we worked on one site where adding user reviews led to a traffic increase of 45 percent on the pages included in the test.

We also did a test where we took existing text on category pages that had originally been crafted as “SEO text” and replaced it. The so-called SEO text was not written with users in mind and hence added little value to the page. We replaced the SEO text with a true mini-guide specific to the categories on which the content resided. We saw a gain of 68 percent to the traffic on those pages. We also had some control pages for which we made no changes, and traffic to those dropped 11 percent, so the net gain was just shy of 80 percent:

impact of new content

Note that our text was handcrafted and tuned with an explicit goal of adding value to the tested pages. So this wasn’t cheap or easy to implement, but it was still quite cost-effective, given that we did this on major category pages for the site.

These two examples show us that investing in improving content quality can offer significant benefits. Now let’s explore how machine learning may make this even more important.

Impact of machine learning

Let’s start by looking at our major ranking factors and see how machine learning might change them.

Content quality

Showing high-quality content in search results will remain critical to the search engines. Machine learning algorithms like RankBrain have improved their ability to understand human language. One example of this is the query that Gary Illyes shared with me: “can you get 100% score on Super Mario without walkthrough.”

Prior to RankBrain, the word “without” was ignored by the Google algorithm, causing it to return examples of walkthroughs, when what the user wanted was to be able to get a result telling them how to do it without a walkthrough. RankBrain was largely focused on long-tail search queries and represented a good step forward in understanding user intent for such queries.

 

But Google has a long way to go. For example, consider the following query:

why are down comforters the best

In this query, Google appears unclear on how the word “best” is being used. The query is not about the best down comforters, but instead is about why down comforters are better than other types of comforters.

Let’s take a look at another example:

coldest-day-in-us-history

See how the article identifies that the coldest day in US history occurred in Alaska, but then doesn’t actually provide the detailed answer in the Featured Snippet? The interesting thing here is that the article Google pulled the answer from actually does tell you both the date and the temperature of the coldest day in the US — Google just missed it.

 

These things are not that complicated, when you look at them one at a time, for Google to fix. The current limitations arise because of the complexity of language and the scale of machine learning required to fix it. The approach to fixing it requires building larger and larger sets of examples like the two I shared above, then using them to help train better machine learning-derived algorithms.

RankBrain was one major step forward for Google, but the work is ongoing. The company is making massive investments in taking their understanding of language forward in dramatic ways. The following excerpt, from USA Today, starts with a quote from Google’s senior program manager, Linne Ha, who runs the Pygmalion team of linguists at the company:

“We’re coming up with rules and exceptions to train the computer,” Ha says. “Why do we say ‘the president of the United States?’ And why do we not say ‘the president of the France?’ There are all sorts of inconsistencies within our language and within every language. For humans it seems obvious and natural, but for machines it’s actually quite difficult.”

The Pygmalion team at Google is the one that is focused on improving Google’s understanding of natural language. Some of the things that will improve at the same time are their understanding of:

  1. what pages on the web best match the user’s intent as implied by the query.
  2. how comprehensive a page is in addressing the user’s needs.

As they do that, their capabilities for measuring the quality of content and how well it addresses the user intent will grow, and this will therefore become a larger and larger ranking factor over time.

User engagement/satisfaction

As already noted, we know that search engines use various methods for measuring user engagement. They’ve already publicly revealed that they use CTR as a quality control factor, and many believe that they use it as a direct ranking factor. Regardless, it’s reasonable to expect that search engines will continue to seek out more useful ways to have user signals play a bigger role in search ranking.

There is a type of machine learning called “reinforcement learning” that may come into play here. What if you could try different sets of search results, see how they perform, and then use that as input to directly refine and improve the search results in an automated way? In other words, could you simply collect user engagement signals and use them to dynamically try different types of search results for queries, and then keep tweaking them until you find the best set of results?

 

But it turns out that this is a very hard problem to solve. Jeff Dean, who many consider one of the leaders of the machine learning efforts at Google, had this to say about measuring user engagement in a recent interview he did with Fortune:

An example of a messier reinforcement learning problem is perhaps trying to use it in what search results should I show. There’s a much broader set of search results I can show in response to different queries, and the reward signal is a little noisy. Like if a user looks at a search result and likes it or doesn’t like it, that’s not that obvious.

Nonetheless, I expect that this is a continuing area of investment by Google. And, if you think about it, user engagement and satisfaction has an important interaction with content quality. In fact, it helps us think about what content quality really represents: web pages that meet the needs of a significant portion of the people who land on them. This means several things:

  1. The product/service/information they are looking for is present on the page.
  2. They can find it with relative ease on the page.
  3. Supporting products/services/information they want can also be easily found on the page.
  4. The page/website gives them confidence that you’re a reputable source to interact with.
  5. The overall design offers an engaging experience.

As Google’s machine learning capabilities advance, they will get better at measuring the page quality itself, or various types of user engagement signals that show what users think about the page quality. This means that you will need to invest in creating pages that fit the criteria laid out in the five points above. If you do, it will give you an edge in your digital marketing strategies — and if you don’t, you’ll end up suffering a a result.

Summary

There are huge changes in the wind, and they’re going to dramatically impact your approach to digital marketing. Your basic priorities won’t change, as you’ll still need to:

  1. create high-quality content.
  2. measure and continuously improve user satisfaction with your site.
  3. establish authority with links.

The big question is, are you really doing enough of these things today? In my experience, most companies under-invest in the continuous improvement of content quality and improving user satisfaction. It’s time to start putting more focus on these things. As Google and other search engines get better at determining content quality, the winners and losers in the search results will begin to shift in dramatic ways.

Google’s focus is on providing better and better results, as this leads to more market share for them and thus higher levels of revenue. Best to get on board the content quality train now — before it leaves the station and leaves you behind

Author : Eric Enge

Source : http://searchengineland.com/machine-learning-impacts-need-quality-content-268059

Categorized in Science & Tech

Every start-up needs an idea. That’s a given. A few other table stakes for growing your business include drive, commitment, smarts and start-up funds.

At a minimum there are also basic technology needs such as a mobile device, a data plan, broadband Internet connectivity and an online presence of some kind. However, small business growth and success may require a few more technological upgrades.

That’s according to Trey Smith, president and CEO of OneStream Networks, a next-generation telecommunications company and consultancy that specializes in both domestic and international unified communications solutions for the enterprise using a cloud-based environment.

“It’s a great time to launch a business because of the incredible functionality and scale that Internet-based solutions and software provide to cost-conscious entrepreneurs at a fraction of the price from just a few years ago,” said Smith.

 

1. Laptop-based softphone software.

One option that Smith recommends for small-to-medium sized businesses that have more than one location, is software that’s loaded onto a laptop that works as a traditional phone, which is known as a softphone application.

He says this type of virtual solution replaces pricey, multi-line telephone units while providing the same functionality at low or no cost.

“This is a great way for growing organizations, which are already deploying laptops to employees, to also deploy the softphone application on those computers as well. This allows for fast scaling of the business with an elegant solution that combines both voice and data for employees.”

One popular softphone option is Zopier, which can be downloaded for free.

2. Automated call attendant.

While a mobile device or smart phone is a mandatory tool for success, Smith suggests using an automated call attendant to provide greater customer service if your start-up is growing but understaffed.

“When a mobile device is dialed it’s either answered or the call goes to voicemail. However, a busy business owner or entrepreneur may choose to answer calls with an auto attendant or interactive voice response software that automatically offers a variety of choices to the caller. This cost-effective option provides understaffed start-ups with efficient call flow handling as well as a perception of scale,” said Smith.

 

3. Toll-free dialing to your mobile phone.

He goes on to suggest that another relatively easy and inexpensive technology to implement is offering customers a toll-free number that connects directly to your mobile phone.

“New business owners rarely consider toll-free numbers that dial directly to their mobile device as an option. However, it’s a great way to create a positive first impression, while offering enhanced value and service to potential customers.”

4. Skype for Business.

For owners who prefer video conferencing, Smith says one of the best low-cost options is Skype for Business. It's basically the familiar Microsoft Skype app on steroids, on your desktop.

“Because Skype is a Microsoft product it's automatically integrated with the MS Office Suite as well as its Outlook email product. So when a meeting is set up via Skype for Business, recipients get a hyperlink that’s fully-enabled for voice, video and desktop sharing. It’s powerful, inexpensive and simple to use.”

Smith’s company works with organizations that range from start-ups to S&P 500 companies, and he acknowledges that while it’s good to know what tech solutions can scale a business it’s more important to know when to scale up.

“There’s no entrepreneurial handbook with a growth timetable. However, we’ve found that a reliable benchmark that suggests it’s time for a small business to think about ramping up its technology platform is if it has a minimum of five employees who have mobile devices, laptops or whom require Internet access. That’s a pretty good rule of thumb.”

Author: TOR CONSTANTINO
Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/254063

Categorized in Business Research

One study says that 47 percent of U.S. jobs could potentially be replaced by automation over the next 20 years. How's your business handling that prospect?

To say that technology has changed the world in just a few short years is something of an understatement. Take the way it's affected our personal lives, for example. In 1990, the internet was a pipe dream -- something that primarily existed on college campuses and in the military.

Ten years later, in 2000, the internet was everywhere and people accessed it in their homes via their desktop computers.

Today, over 40 percent of the world's population is online -- which breaks down to about 3.5 billion people. More than that, people's primary means of accessing the web is via the small-yet-powerful smartphone so many carry around with them in their pockets all day long.

But if you think that only our personal lives are changing because of technology, think again. It's also rapidly changing the way things get done in the world of business, too. This is true across a wide range of different industries in the following three fascinating ways.

 

1. Technology has the news industry in flux.

One of the biggest industries that have seen a shift because of technology is that of news. With social media having become the new norm, news spreads faster than ever. However, not all of it is positive -- or real. In an era where everyone rushes to be first, rushing to be correct doesn't seem quite so important -- at least to readers. News organizations themselves are struggling for how to properly adapt to this trend, moving forward.

Facebook, for example, recently announced a plan to attack the fake news that spreads like wildfire in its users' feeds. Other social networking sites are doing the same. Whether these efforts will be enough to stop the spread of rampant misinformation, however, remains to be seen.

2. Information technology as a service is booming.

Thanks largely to the app revolution that took the smartphone world by storm, software developers (and to a larger extent, IT companies) are getting involved in a number of interesting ways. Almost all the resources that businesses leverage on a daily basis -- from their antivirus software to their productivity suites to even the storage they use -- are shifting to cloud-based subscription models.

 

The point is to drive down costs and drive up value. With the right managed services provider at their sides, small businesses can now compete with their larger brethren as never before.

"For one low monthly fee, it is now possible for a small business to remotely lease all of the cutting-edge equipment they need to remain competitive in the marketplace," Michael Collins of Bawell Water Ionizers told me.  "Everything from software to servers to storage to backup and disaster recovery can now be handled by a third-party provider," he said. "This frees them up to focus on what really matters, while still saving them money at the same time."

3. Automation is about to change everything.

Another major way that technology is rapidly changing the way things get done across industries can be summed up in one word: automation. Tech has reached the point where a massive amount of work currently done by humans will soon be done by computers.

“In manufacturing, you’ll start to see robotics become more sophisticated and able to seamlessly participate in key functions," Chris Wiegand, CEO of Jibestream told me. "In the software world," Wiegand said, "artificial intelligence and machine learning will drive automation through the ability to make sense of large amounts of data, and predict with accuracy the appropriate outcome.

"Ultimately, this level of intelligence and automation will enable our everyday applications to do a lot of heavy lifting for us across a wide range of industries.”

According to a study conducted at Oxford University in the U.K., roughly 47 percent of the jobs in the United States could potentially be replaced by automation over the next 20 years. None of this is to say that 47 percent of the population will soon be out of a job. As these jobs disappear, new ones will be created in their place.

Bottom line

At the end of the day, none of this is new. Technology has always changed the world, often for the better. Innovation by entrepreneurs and their undying urge to do better have done everything from giving us electricity in our homes to sending men to the moon. Why should the 2000s be any different?

Regardless of which industry you're looking at, one thing is for sure: Technology is tearing down and rebuilding business after business for all time right before our very eyes. It's natural to be slightly pessimistic, as change is naturally an unsettling thing. However, when you consider just how far technology has brought us as a society in just 100 years, it's incredible to wonder what the next 100 will hold.

Author: BRIAN HUGHES
Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/288025

Categorized in Science & Tech

If you're holding your shiny new Android smartphone and are wondering how to get the most from it, then you've come to the right place.

Whether this is your first smartphone, you've just hopped over from an iPhone, or you've had a number of Android handsets, we've pulled together some of the best Android tips and tricks to help you get the most from your phone.

Android is an ever-changing beast with many faces. There are different versions of the software, there are plenty of different manufacturer skins layed over that Android core, like those from Sony, Samsung or HTC, and there's a limitless level of customisation you can apply from Google Play, or other third-party sources.

That means that few Android devices are alike, but all Android devices have the same foundation. So, starting at the beginning, here's how to master your Android phone. 

Sort out your Google account

Android and Google are like peas in a pod. To use Android, you need to use a Google account. That means everything that goes with it - Gmail, calendars, contacts, YouTube, Google Maps and more.

Getting your account in order is something you can do from your PC before you sign into your new device, letting you use the big screen and keyboard to get things straight.

 

Google incorporates a contacts system which hides within Gmail on your desktop browser. If you have lots of contacts, import them into Google contacts and manage them there. Managing them on a computer makes it much faster to get everything correct before you get started.

If you have your contacts in another form, there are easy ways to import them to Google, as well as scan for duplicates and so on. As your Android life progresses, it's worth popping back to your core Google contacts list to check that everything is still nice and tidy.

If you're thinking of saving contacts to the SIM card and moving them over, it's not worth the effort: better to find the software to import them from your old phone to your PC, to then feed them to Google. It will make your life easier in the future.

Master transfer tools, or just use Google

Many manufacturers offer transfer tools to help you move old content to new places. This might be a desktop app, but more frequently, it's becoming part of the device when you set it up for the first time. Android now also has the option to restore a previous backup, or set up a device from scratch, as well as offering you the chance to transfer data wirelessly to setup things like your accounts and settings.

Generally speaking, if you've been using Android previously, those items associated with your account will move over without a hitch. However, for things like photos, you might wish to move them to a cloud service if you want to preserve them.

Google Photos is the obvious choice for Android users, because it's associated with your account. You just have to install the app and sign in. You could also use OneDrive from Microsoft or Dropbox, as both offer photo backup options and are widely accessible across platforms. You could also save to a microSD card and move it across, if you have the hardware to support it.

Get to your settings faster

Swiping down the notifications bar will get you access to shortcuts for various hardware toggles. It's here you can turn off things like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi quickly and easily. Many manufacturers edit this area, so Samsung, LG, HTC and Nexus devices all look different.

Android has a grid of quick settings shortcuts if you're on one of the recent versions of Android like Lollipop or Marshmallow, which most new devices are. Swipe down with two fingers and it will take you straight to those toggles. 

If you want to head to the full setting menu, tap the cog at the top of the notifications area when you swipe down. 

 

Watch your data

Although some contracts give you unlimited data, it's always worth looking out for how much you're consuming, so that you can avoid an unwanted bill by making sure you don't go over your data limit.

Head into the settings menu and in the top section "wireless and networks" you'll find the option for data usage. This is where the phone keeps track of your data use and you can set an alert for your limits so you don't over spend.

You can also see what is consuming data which is a quick way to spot apps that might be using a lot of data when they don't need to be. You can then go to that app and tinker with the settings, perhaps set it to update on Wi-Fi only.

Data not working?

Smartphones are complex beasties and sometimes things just stop working. The bar says you have full reception, but nothing is moving, you can't get that site to load or that tweet to send.

Try flipping the phone into Aeroplane/Airplane mode and back again. This will sever your connection and re-establish it, and hopefully things will start moving again. You can get to Aeroplane mode via the quick settings grid mentioned above, or with a long press of the standby button.

Managing Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi will keep you connected and saves your data costs, but there's an option in Android to alert you to open networks. When walking down a typical street, it will constantly ping you, asking if you want to connect.

Usually these networks aren't open, they require log-in once you've connected. Head into settings > Wi-Fi > advanced settings and disable the feature to be left alone.

 

If you're looking for the WPS option on Android, which is really handy to quickly connect to a router, you'll find it in settings > Wi-Fi. It may appear with the WPS arrows, or be hiding in the menu.

Wi-Fi not working?

Just like cellular data, sometimes Wi-Fi goes on the blink. Often, just opening the quick settings and toggling Wi-Fi off and then back on again, will re-establish the connection.

Glorious displays ... eat battery

The wonderful display on your Android devices is also the thing that's going to eat the battery. Although it often looks the best at full brightness, that's not very beneficial to your battery. Opting for auto brightness will often give you the best balance of brightness and the visual impact you're after.

Some devices will then let you tailor auto brightness so you can increase or decrease within that scale. Bumping it down a notch on long days will help prolong your battery.

If you're just not happy with the auto brightness, then try the app Lux Lite. This will take over the display brightness control, as well as letting you bump it up or down from the notifications area.

Also look at your display sleep settings. There's no need for it to stay on longer than you need it, so head into settings > display > and look for "sleep" or "display timeout" and pick something shorter.

How do I take an Android screenshot?

Simply hold standby and volume down at the same time and you'll get a screenshot of whatever you're looking at. Not everything can be captured, however. Some protected content, such as video playing in some apps, won't appear in your screenshot.

Screenshots are stored in the gallery in their own folder, but if you're looking to share, you can do straight from the notifications bar once it's saved.

 

What is the best Android keyboard?

Simple: the one that works for you. You don't have to put up with the keyboard your device comes with. There are loads of options for the keyboard, from the manufacturer's version that Samsung or HTC bundle in, through to the stock Android keyboard, or third party keyboards like SwiftKey Skype.

First up, you might want to turn off the vibration feedback on keypress, which you'll find in settings > language & input (or language & keyboard) where all the keyboard settings lie. Sometimes the vibrations get backed up and once your fingers start flying, they can't always keep up, which is annoying. The buzzing of the vibration may also be really annoying to those around you. Some vibrations get hidden in the sound and notification setting. Again, less is more, as they say.

Although some of the manufacturer keyboards are pretty good, the stock Android keyboard (available on Google Play) is also good, but we're fans of the advanced features of SwiftKey (pictured above), which is well worth a try too, because of the strength of its predictive suggestions. It's also free.

Get some apps

Phones used to be for making calls. Now they're for doing everything. No matter what you're after, there's bound to be an app perfect for the job, from shopping to banking, to reading to dating.

 

Apps are found in the Play Store. From here you can download a world of free or paid-for applications. However you don't have to do it through your phone. Once signed in with your Google account, you can do it from a browser, pushing the required app through to your handset. Just head to Google Play in your browser to get started.

It's worth noting that apps update regularly on Android. That's not necessarily because there's something wrong, but because there are constant changes to bring in refinements, optimisations or new features.

However, you'll want to make sure you're only updating those apps when connected to Wi-Fi. In Play Store, head to settings and you'll find the option to control how your apps get updates.

You're also free to install apps that aren't on Google Play. This may include beta software direct from developers, or something like Amazon Underground. If you want to do this, you'll have to enable that option. Go to settings > security and you'll find the option to enable apps from "unknown sources". Be warned, however, that you may expose your device to risks if you choose to do so.

Which is the best Android browser?

There are lots of browsers available for Android, with each offering a range of different options. The stock browser is Chrome and that's the best Android browser.

However, when you're looking at a new device, you might find that you have another browser, likely one that has been tinkered with by the device manufacturer. More often than not, you can ignore it and go straight for Chrome.

If your device doesn't have it, Chrome is on Google Play, and if you're a Chrome desktop user, you'll find plenty of syncing through your Google account, including browser and search history, bookmarks and autofill details, which are really handy on the move. 

 

Customise your Android home pages

The homepage is front of the queue when it comes to customisation. Your new phone will probably come with a range of shortcuts and widgets spread across a number of pages.

If you don't want them, delete them with a long press and drag them to the trash can. You can also usually delete the pages they're sitting on: there's no need to have seven home pages if they're all empty.

Different versions of Android and different manufacturers have slightly different approaches to home page customisation. Normally a long press on the background wallpaper, or a pinch on the background will get you started, but it differs from device to device.

Use Android folders

Folders are a great way to organise your apps on your home page. To be extra efficient, you can also place folders on the shortcut bar at the bottom of the display.

This means you can have lots of your core apps to hand without them cluttering up your home page, so that lovely wallpaper of your cat remains visible.

To create a folder, just drag one app shortcut over another and a folder will be automatically created.

Some devices will also let you make folders in the apps tray (menu) which is a great way to organise everything in there and make it easier to find your app. That said, if you've done a good job with folders on your home page, you'll find yourself rarely using the main apps tray.

What Android Launcher should I use?

If you're new to Android, the term launcher might be confusing. The launcher is basically the home pages, the apps tray and the shortcut bar at the bottom.

Your device will come with a stock launcher in place, that of the manufacturer. If you don't like it and want a different look to your phone, it's really easy to switch to an alternative and there are loads in Google Play. From Android 4.4 KitKat upwards, it's easy to manage the different launchers you have installed for easy switching.

When you install a new launcher, the original stays on the phone so you're not losing it, you're just telling the phone to use a different launcher instead, meaning you can escape from the looks of HTC Sense or Samsung TouchWiz if you don't like it and have something a little more unique.

We're big fans of Google Now Launcher. It give any Android phone a simple stock Android look and feel, with Google Now only a swipe away.

How to backup your Android photos

To address the age-old problem of how to make sure your photos travel with you, no matter what device you're using, there are lots of options. This used to be dependant on a third-party app, but now it's handled by Google Photos.

Google Photos was formerly integrated into Google+, but has been split out in the past year as a standalone app and service. It's the stock gallery on Android devices, although many like Sony and HTC will supply something different. All devices can access Photos, however, and it has backup integrated into it.

All you have to do is head into the settings and choose which Google account you'd like to backup. That means you can, for example, save all your device photos to a personal account rather than a work account you might lose access to in the future. You get the option of selecting to backup a smaller version or the full thing.

If you want to escape from Google, you can do the same with other apps, such as Microsoft's OneDrive or Dropbox. Both will offer to backup your photos and videos. Check your settings though, as you probably don't want to be backing up over phone data, just when on Wi-Fi.

SD card or not?

If you're lucky enough to have a microSD card slot on your device, there are a few things you should know about it. 

MicroSD is a great place for storing additional content for your device, or to expand the storage you have. If you have a device that's running Android 6 Marshmallow, the latest version, you might have access to something called Flex Storage. Flex Storage lets you use the microSD card as expanded internal storage. The microSD card's capacity will be assimilated and used for everything the phone wants.

Flex Storage is a great option for those with a low storage device, like 8GB, as it means you can expand it and accept more apps. If you opt not to use Flex Storage, you can't use it for installing more apps - it will only be used for storing files, like music or photos.

Importantly, if you're opting to use microSD, you should buy the fastest card you can to ensure that you're not slowing the phone down when it comes to accessing the data you have on it.

Managing Android music

Google's own music service (Play Music) will let you upload your music to the cloud from your Mac or PC, effectively backing it up on Google's server. You'll then be able to stream or download this to your device.

If you've been an iTunes customer, that's no problem. The Music Manager you download for PC or Mac can find your iTunes music and upload it, but beware, it will take some time and will possibly be quite a lot of broadband data.

But once done, it's all available to your Android device(s), or through any browser. Note, however, that music you download to your Android device through Play Music can only be listened to with the Play Music app.

If you've bought music from Amazon MP3 in the past, the Android app will let you stream or play songs from that service too and there are plenty of other options for players and streaming services.

Alternatively you can just load all your content onto your phone's memory, and as we mentioned, using microSD for this job is likely to be the best option, if you can.

Moving files to and from your phone

Android is great in that it gives you so much flexibility for carrying and using all sorts of files. Embracing the cloud is preferable to using wire and you have plenty of options to get access to those PDFs or whatever else you want. You can use Google Drive to move files easily and you can then access these through any browser, or on any Android device, or with apps elsewhere.

Google's apps will let you edit them easily and there are free applications for things like Docs and Sheets, ideal for working on your documents on the move. Alternatively, Microsoft offers free Office apps for Android, although some features are only available to Office 365 subscribers. It works in cohoots with OneDrive, again.

Alternatively, Dropbox will do much the same thing. Install the app and you'll be able to move files through the cloud over to your device.

If you do want to use wire - and that's sometimes better for larger files like video - then you have several options. Many manufacturers bundle software with devices, although this tends to focus on photo and music syncing and is often more trouble than it's worth. Instead, you can just access the device through Windows once plugged in via USB, so you can just drag and drop files. 

On a Mac, you'll need to install an application called Android File Transfer. Once in place, you can again drag and drop directly to your device's memory.

Note however, that there are various settings on your phone to handle USB connections. You'll be given the choice of what you want to do, but these days, using cloud syncing is often the fastest option.

Author: CHRIS HALL
Source: http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/110621-android-for-beginners-tips-and-tricks-for-your-new-smartphone

Categorized in Science & Tech

Our cast falls short on members but stays big on insight this week when Matt and Min join together to break down powerful information in the worlds of design and marketing. Together, they look at some more future trends, changes to Google search, and more!

  1. 2017’s Design Trends [1:45]
  2. YouTube in Google Search [10:20]
  3. Sourcing Your Content [12:05]

2017’s Design Trends

This week, Min revisits the 2017 trends to lay out some insight into the world of design, from an actual designer! Together, her and Matt look at popular trends from colors and layouts of websites, to navigation and user experience in just about everything!

  • “I’ve been seeing a lot of hype around conversational interfaces lately in the design world. People just want to feel like they’re really talking to someone.” -Min
  • “There’s also a big trend for websites to be smarter in predicting what their users want, think Amazon but in a lot of other websites.” -Min
  • “2017 is going to be a year of trying to make things easier for mobile users. Think UI and UX, little things like pulling the screen down to refresh it or simplified navigation” -Min
  • “Personally, I think virtual reality is going to have the biggest effect on design as a whole, it’s throwing so many designers for a loop.” -Min

 

YouTube in Google Search

Recently, someone discovered some changes to the mobile search results from Google that could have a huge impact on SEO in the future. To get a deeper look, Matt breaks down the changes and talks about what it could mean to the industry and businesses that want to utilize this powerful tool!

  • “As we all know, Google is the largest search engine but the second largest is actually YouTube.” -Matt
  • “A user found that when he searched certain things that videos from YouTube would be listed first and they would auto play like they do on Facebook.” -Matt
  • “By making videos auto-play without sound, it forces designers to edit text onto the videos that have dialogue or information share verbally.” -Matt

Sourcing Your Content

The number one question our host Matt gets asked when he’s talking with people about digital marketing is, where should you get your content from and how much of it should you curate? Matt takes some time to dive into just that, to answer all those questions so you don’t even need to ask!

  • “Personally, I like to adhere to a an 80/20 rule if you’re just starting out on social media. Post 80% of curated content and 20% of original content.” -Matt
  • “For small business who don’t have time to create lots of content, starting small is great until you’ve got a good que of built up material.” -Min
  • “It’s okay to update older content, just put in your sub header that you’ve updated it. Google likes it, your viewers like it, everyone likes it!” -Matt

 

 

Author: Matt Curtis
Source: http://www.business2community.com/podcasts/2017s-design-trends-youtube-google-search-sourcing-content-podcast-01758797#AwMw6U4Bjw36YX2F.97

 

 

In this century, there’s too much competitions among tech firms around the world. Tech-companies coming up with innovative ideas every single day, enhancing their product; smartphones, laptops, gaming console, and forth, to the fullest. This brings or accumulates the companies customer base, and having more customers is all what that matters.

Apple Inc. has proven to be the best tech-firm in the world, where the company this week celebrated the achievement of one of their biggest product in the history of smartphones, the birth of the iPhone. According to online reports, the iPhone contributes almost 60% of the company’s revenue since it’s birth in 2007.

The list below was generated from Forbes Lists, showing the ten most valuable technology brands in the world, and how worth the brand is.

 

1 Apple (Brand Value: $154.1 Billion)

Apple Inc. engages in the design, manufacture, and marketing of mobile communication, media devices, personal computers, and portable digital music players. The firm offers products and services under the iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod, Apple Watch, and Apple TV brands, whereas consumer and professional software applications under the iOS, OS, X, and watchOS brands; and operating systems under the iCloud and Apple Pay brands.

In other news, the Cupertino-based tech firm, Apple Inc. earlier this week celebrated the 10th anniversary to one of it’s outstanding innovative products; the iPhone. Read Full Story.

2 Google (Brand Value: $82.5 Billion)

Google Inc. primarily focuses on the areas which include search, advertising, operating systems, platforms, enterprise and hardware products. The search area consists of a vast index of websites and other online content which is made available through its search engine to anyone with an Internet connection.

In other news, Mountain View-based internet firm, late last year launched their ever first make smartphones, Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL during a press event on October 4th, 2016. Read Full Story.

3 Microsoft (Brand Value: $75.2 Billion)

Microsoft Corp. engages in the provision of developing and marketing software and hardware services. Its products include operating systems for computing devices, servers, and phones. It also offers server applications for distributed computing environments, productivity applications, business solution applications, desktop and server management tools, software development tools, video games, and online advertising.

In other news, the Redmond-based software firm, is building a new web-based privacy dashboard that will allow users users to see and control their data, including; location tracking, searching and browsing histories, and Cortana Notebook data accrued through every Windows device the user owns. Read Full Story.

 

4 Facebook (Brand Value: $52.6 Billion)

Facebook Inc. is a social networking company, which allows people to communicate with family, and friends globally. Its services include news feed, messages, mobile apps, and so forth. It’s other social products include; photo-sharing platform; Instagram, Messenger, messaging platform; Whatsapp, and Virtual Reality firm; Oculus VR.

In other news, Menlo Park-based social networking firm, last year announced it will introduce tools to prevent fake news stories from spreading on its platform, an about-face in response to rising criticism that it did not do enough to combat the problem during the U.S. presidential campaign. Read Full Story.

5 IBM (Brand Value: $41.4 Billion)

International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) provides integrated solutions that leverage information technology and knowledge of business processes operating them through five segments: Global Technology Services, Global Business Services, Software, Systems & Technology and Global Financing.

In other news, Armonk-based IT firm, last year acquired cloud consulting firm Bluewolf for $200 Million. However, the terms of the deal weren’t officially been disclosed but the price was reported to be $200 million. Read Fully Story.

6 Samsung (Brand Value: $36.1 Billion)

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. operates its business through; Consumer Electronics (such as – monitor, printer, air-conditioners, refrigerators, and washing machines), Information Technology & Mobile Communications, Semiconductors, Home appliances and Device Solutions.

In other news, the South Korean-based Electronics firm, at one of the biggest Tech-Events in the world; CES, launched two Chromebooks with stylus support built to support Android apps. Read Full Story.

7 Amazon (Brand Value: $35.2 Billion)

Amazon Inc. provides online retail shopping services to four primary customer sets; consumers, sellers, enterprises, and content creators. Other services they provide like any other online shopping market include; marketing and promotional services, such as online advertising. It serves consumers through its retail websites with a focus on selection, price, and convenience.

In other news, the Canadian online shopping market was threatened by India’s Foreign Minister – to deny Indian visas to Amazon employees if the company didn’t withdraw all products insulting the Indian national flag immediately from it’s website. Read Full story.

8 CISCO (Brand Value: $28.4 Billion)

Cisco Systems Inc. designs, manufactures, and sells Internet Protocol based networking products (such as; Switching, Routing, Data Center, Wireless, Security, to name a few) and services related to the communications and information technology industry.

9 Oracle (Brand Value: $28 Billion)

Oracle Corp. provides enterprise software and computer hardware products and services and is organized in; Hardware Systems, Enterprise software, and Cloud Computing.

10 Intel (Brand Value: $27.7 Billion)

Intel Corp. develops advanced integrated digital technology products, primarily integrated circuits, for industries such as computing and communications. Some of the products the company produces include; chip-sets, motherboards, microprocessors, and so forth.

Author : Nathan Ernest Olupot

Source : http://pctechmag.com/2017/01/the-worlds-ten-most-valuable-brands-in-technology/

Categorized in Science & Tech

Min is a Web browser with a minimal design that provides speedy operation with simple features.

When it comes to software design, "minimal" does not mean low functionality or undeveloped potential. If you like minimal distraction tools for your text editor and note-taking applications, that same comfort appeal is evident in the Min browser.

I mostly use Google Chrome, Chromium and Firefox on my desktops and laptop computers. I am well invested in their add-on functionality, so I can access all the specialty services that get me through my long sessions in researching and working online.

However, I sometimes prefer a fast, uncluttered alternative on-ramp to the Internet. With multiple projects in progress, I can amass a wide collection of open tabs or even separate windows of the powerhouse browsers in no time.

I have tried other browser options with little success. The alternatives usually have their own sets of distracting add-ons and features that tend to pull me into more off-task behavior.

The Min browser does not do that. It is a GitHub-sourced Web browser that is easy to use, and it keeps the typical interruptions from distracting me.

Min browser

The Min browser is minimal-design Web browser that provides speedy operation with simple features. Just don't expect to take its tour any time soon.

 

What It Does

The Min browser comes in versions for Debian Linux variants, Windows and Mac machines. It can not compete with the functionality available in the mainstream cross-platform Web browsers.

It does not have to compete, though. Its claim to fame very well might be supplementing rather than replacing them.

One big reason for this is its built-in ad blocking capability. Out of the box, the Min browser needs no configuration or hunting for compatible third-party apps to do end-runs around ads.

In Edit/Preferences, you have three options to click/unclick for content blocking. It's easy to modify blocking tactics to suit your preferences. The Block Trackers and Ads option uses EasyList and EasyPrivacy. If nothing else, keep this option checked.

You also can block scripts and block images. Doing both maximizes the website loading speeds and really ramps up your protection against rogue code attacks.

Have Search Your Way

If you spend considerable time doing online research, you will adore the way Min handles searching. It is a top-notch feature.

Search functionality is accessible right in the browser's URL bar. Min utilizes search engine DuckDuckGo and Wikipedia entries. You can enter search queries directly into the Web address field.

This approach saves time since you do not have to go to the search engine window first. A nice bonus is the ability to search your bookmarks.

In the Edit/Preferences menu, choose your choice for default search engine. The list includes DuckDuckGo, Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Wikipedia and Yandex.

Try making DuckDuckGo your default search engine.

 

Min is built around that option but does not impose it on you.

Min browser search function

Min browser's search functionality is part of the URL bar. Min utilizes search engine DuckDuckGo and Wikipedia entries. You can enter search queries directly into the Web address window.

The search bar displays answers to your questions very rapidly. It uses information from DuckDuckGo including Wikipedia entries, a calculator and more.

It offers quick snippets, answers and Web suggestions. It sort of substitutes for not being in a Google-based environment.

Navigating Aids

Min lets you jump to any site quickly with fuzzy search. It throws suggestions at you almost immediately.

I like the way the tabs open next to the current tab. You do not have to set this preference. It is there by default with no other choice, but it makes sense.

Min browser Tasks

One of Min's really cool operations is the ability to organize tabs into Tasks that you can search anytime. (click image to enlarge)

Tabs you have not clicked on for a while dim. This lets you concentrate on your current task without distractions.

Min does not need an add-on tool to keep numerous tabs under control. The browser displays a list of tags and lets you split them into groups.

Stay Focused

Min has an optional Focus Mode hidden in the View menu. When enabled, it hides all tabs except the one you have opened. You must return to the menu to turn off Focus Mode before you can open new tabs.

The Tasks feature also helps you stay focused. You can create tasks from the File menu or with Control+Shift+N. If you want to open a new tab, you can select that option in the Files menu or use Control+T.

Call the new task whatever fits your style. I like being able to organize and display as a group all the tabs associated with a work project or a specific portion of my research. I can recall the entire list at any time to easily and quickly find where I was in my browsing adventure.

Another neat feature is found under the paragraph alignment icon in the tab area. Click it to enable Reading Mode. This mode saves the article for future reference and strips away everything on the page so you can focus on the task of reading.

Not Perfect

The Min browser is not a perfect alternative to high-powered, feature-bloated alternatives. It does have a few glaring weaknesses that developers have taken too long to rectify.

For instance, It lacks a solid developer website stocked with support forums and detailed user guides. That may be partly due to its home being GitHub rather than an independent developer website. Still, it's a weakness that is glaring to new users.

Without website support, users are forced to struggle with lists of readme files and hard-to-follow directories on GitHub. You can access them from the Min browser Help menu -- but that's not much help.

A case in point is the Welcome to Min splash screen that loads from the menu when you launch the browser. It displays two buttons. One says "Start Browsing." The other says "Take a Tour." Neither one works.

However, you can start browsing by clicking on the menu bar at the top of the Min window. There is no workaround for the missing tour, though.

Bottom Line

Min is not a full-featured Web browser with bells and whistles galore. It is not designed for add-ons and many other features you typically use in well-established Web browsers. However, Min serves an important niche purpose by offering speed and distraction-free browsing.

The more I use the Min browser, the more productive it is for me -- but be wary when you first start to use it.

Min is not complicated or confusing -- it is just quirky. You have to play around with it to discover how it works.

Want to Suggest a Review?

Is there a Linux software application or distro you'd like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I'll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Author: Jack M. Germain
Source: http://www.technewsworld.com/story/84212.html

Categorized in Science & Tech

Google tweaked Android last year to make the open source operating system attractive to automakers that want a customized, turn-key infotainment system. An Android in-car infotainment system was viewed, at the time, as just a concept.

Now it appears that at least one automaker is interested.

Google (GOOG, -1.40%) and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU, +0.66%) announced Tuesday they will show off a Chrysler 300 sedan that uses the Android open source platform at CES, the annual consumer electronics show in Las Vegas. The collaboration aims to show off how an Android operating system might look and work in a vehicle—even if the automaker has its own infotainment system.

 

Android is integrated with FCA's infotainment system called UConnect. This means Android's universe of applications—including Google Assisant and Google Maps as well as Spotify and Pandora, should work seamlessly with UConnect.

"With Android, we are able to maintain our unique and intuitive Uconnect user interface, all while integrating our easy-to-use systems with Android's features and ecosystem of applications," said Chris Barman, head of electrical engineering at FCA.

Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s technology newsletter.

Google has been pushing deeper into automotive sector in the past 18 months, with the introduction of Android Auto and 7.0 Nougat, the newest version of Android that was released in 2016.

Android Auto and Android are different.

Android Auto is an in-car software platform that brings the functionality and feel of a smartphone to the vehicle’s central screen. Android Auto is in cars, but it’s not an operating system; it’s the HMI layer—or a secondary interface—that sits on top of the operating system.

Meanwhile, Android is a mobile operating system that runs on Linux and is designed for smartphones and tablets. The new version of Android called 7.0 Nougat was updated to be dashboard-friendly, meaning it makes it easy for automakers to use it to create an infotainment platform for their cars.

This new generation of Android is meant to allow automakers to more easily use the open source operating system to create a customized, turn-key infotainment system that controls HVAC, navigation, AM/FM, media streaming, Bluetooth calling and media streaming, multi-channel audio, and digital instrument clusters.

Patrick Brady, director of Android Engineering at Google, told Fortune last year that while Android Auto has a lot of advantages, it is limited because it's just the HMI layer.

"Our goal is to create this seamless experience where you have connected services in the car," Brady said in an interview in May 2016. " We think ultimately you need to have a single software experience across the board, and that building Android into the car is a pretty great way to do that."

Auhtor : Kirsten Korosec

Source : http://fortune.com/2017/01/02/google-fiat-chrysler-android/

Categorized in Science & Tech

 

Slower than expected sales may have Apple reducing iPhone production.

Traditionally, new iPhones sell pretty well in their first few months -- often outperforming the previous model's sales during the same quarter. That might not be the case with Apple's latest handset: according to Nikkei, sluggish sales are forcing the company to cut back production of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus devices. Based on data received from suppliers, Nikkei expects Apple to slow stock production by about 10 percent.

Apple saw an early sign of this reported slowdown in March, when its Q2 earnings showed that while iPhone 6S upgrades were outpacing the previous year, they still weren't up to snuff with sales from users who upgraded to the iPhone 6 is 2014. It's too early to say if the iPhone 7's slower sales are enough to make it the company's first device not to outsell the previous model, but we'll know soon enough: Apple's next quarterly earnings are set to drop sometime at the end of next month.

 

Author: Sean Buckley
Source: https://www.engadget.com/2016/12/30/the-iphone-7-may-not-be-selling-as-well-as-apple-hoped

Categorized in Science & Tech

To me, deciding on my 'Smartphone of the Year' is a curious challenge. The choice can't simply be 'the best phone' because everyone has a slightly different criteria for what makes the best phone. If I were to think about it empirically and go for the phone that fits the majority of people's criteria I wouldn't have the best phone, I would have 'the average phone of the year' that upsets the least number of people.

For a smartphone to pick up my personal award it needs to say something about itself, about the manufacturer behind it, and it needs to reflect the smartphone industry over the last twelve months.

So, with just a little bit of scene-setting and discussion about the phones I'm placing in third and second place, let's find out my smartphone of 2016.

Third Place: Jolla C, by Jolla

I've known that the Jolla C would be in the running for a long time for the award, because for the middle six months of the year it was the perfect use of 'proof by negation' of what the smartphone industry required from a smartphone in 2016.

 

The Jolla C hardware might look a touch underpowered, although it has been built to a very low price of around 170 Euros. With a SnapDragon 212 System on chip, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage and a 2500 mAh battery, the real strength is in the software. It runs a 'clean' version of Sailfish OS which flies even on these apparently low specifications.

Around one thousand handsets were released (as 'developer editions') and offered over the summer months - a short run that was almost instantly snapped up by the faithful. It made some waves online, but no more. Here was a small company, making the hardware, putting on the software, and distributing the machine. Sailfish OS is compact, designed for a 'buttonless' smartphone relying solely on touchscreen input, with genuine multitasking on top of a robust Linux-based OS. It's robustness was proved on this low-priced Nexus-like device.

Author: Ewan Spence
Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ewanspence/2016/12/31/iphone-7-plus-galaxy-s7-edge-jolla-smartphone-of-the-year/#182255f6d1ff

Categorized in Science & Tech

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