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Take a break from the Black Friday shopping to join us for another roundup of the greatest and latest tech and marketing news.

This week saw the introduction of Google's ambient mode, the removal of inactive twitter accounts, the launch of a new social media platform and some very controversial photos of cows in VR headsets.

Are you intrigued? Let's jump right into it!

 

Video courtesy of Android

Google Assistant's New Ambient Mode

 Have you ever wished you could see helpful Google assistant information on your lock screen?

Well, with Google assistant's new Ambient Mode, that dream is becoming a reality! Things like your calendar events, your notifications, information about the weather and smart home controls can be managed directly from your lock screen with Google's Ambient Mode.

The catch... Ambient only works when your phone is plugged in, so you'll have to keep your charger handy if you want to make the most of it!

At the moment, it looks like Google is only giving a select number of devices access to this feature including Nokia phones, Xiaomi phones, Lenovo's Smart Tab M8 and more. Hopefully, with Ambient mode's deep integration into Android, we can expect to see it roll out across most devices in the coming months. 

Do you think this could replace your Google Home, your Amazon Echo? Let us know your thoughts.

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Twitter Deactivating Inactive Accounts

When was the last time you logged onto Twitter? If it was 6 months ago (or longer) then you could be in for a shock!!

Twitter has announced that it will be deactivating old accounts to free up usernames and 'clean up' the platform. 

As you can imagine, the idea of deleting inactive accounts has caused a bit of an outrage, particularly amongst people who have lost a loved one. Currently, Twitter doesn't have a way to memorialise the accounts of deceased users, which can make preserving these accounts a little tricky. 

Luckily, Twitter has said they'll delay this process until they've come up with a solution to these concerns. After all, many people hold on to the twitter conversations and exchanges they had with a loved one long after they pass, so it's nice to see Twitter making allowances for this. 

Cocoon

Image from www.standard.co.uk

Cocoon App Created By Ex-Facebook Employee

Just when you thought there couldn't be any more social media platforms, a new app called Cocoon emerges!

Upon initial inspection, Cocoon looks like a hybrid of WhatsApp and Facebook newsfeed. Cocoon offers a space where you can share messages, make video calls, see people's locations and much much more. 

Sachin Monga, who co-founded Cocoon, worked at Facebook prior to setting up this new social business venture, and says that the app has become her 'home on her phone'!

We think this is an interesting concept, and could be a simple way to filter out all the spammy news articles, old school friends and annoying acquaintances that most of us are used to seeing all over our Facebook & Instagram feeds. Would you be willing to give it a try? 

So, that concludes our roundup for this week! So, will you be giving the new Ambient Mode or Cocoon a try? Or will you be logging back into your long-abandoned Twitter account to save it from being re-commissioned? However you're spending your weekend, we hope it's a good one and we'll see you next week for another DW roundup!

Yet another week has gone by and yet again... lots has happened! Here's our weekly round-up of the latest and greatest marketing and tech news of the week. 

Instagram's hidden likes

If you haven't already heard, Instagram is rolling out a new feature in the hope of making Instagram a more mentally friendly place! The new change means users won't be able to see the total number of likes on each other's posts. This is all part of Instagram's movement towards de-incentivising the platform.

At the moment, Instagram is testing this feature so we're yet to see what kind of impact this will have. Instagram reports that feedback has been good so far though, so watch this space!

Google tests a new feature that corrects your pronunciation

It was announced this week that Google plans to launch a new feature to help people check and correct their pronunciation of new and unfamiliar words. All you'll need to do is speak into your microphone, then, Google will use its AI technology to analyse your pronunciation and provide helpful feedback. Perfect for people learning a new language!

Search Console training series

For digital marketers looking to brush up their Search Console knowledge, Google is planning to release a new series of videos to walk you through the platform step by step. We know that Google has (and is continuing to make) some pretty significant changes to the format and features of Search Console, so this will be really beneficial for marketers everywhere.

So far, we can only see the trailer... but we'll definitely be checking back to watch the episodes as Google starts to roll them out!

Exciting tech releases

It's no surprise that with Christmas quickly approaching, big tech companies are rolling out new and attractive tech an alarming rate! This week alone, Apple released a new 16-inch MacBook Pro, Motorola released a new Razr (which looks deceivingly like the original model we all know and love), and Disney+ launched.

That's right, you can now find hundreds of Disney TV shows and films all in one place... 

So, if like us, you're going to spend the entire weekend binge-watching Disney movies then we'll see you next week for another round-up!

Another week has come and gone and a host of tech updates have been dropped, along with huge news from one of the world’s leading social media platforms. So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

iOS 13.2 is released with a new batch of Emojis

The latest software release from Apple sees the introduction of this year’s Emoji update. A total number of 398 new Emojis have been released which includes the usual new animals, foods and hand gestures. The biggest addition to this year’s collection of Emojis, however, is the disability and gender-neutral options, along with a new way to select skin tones.

(Image: Emojipedia)

 

Apple release 3rd gen AirPods

This week saw the release of the AirPods Pro, the third generation of Apple’s wireless earbuds. Coming in at a whopping £250, the latest rendition offers several features that their predecessor does not.

Firstly, the new AirPods look different. I mean, how else are people going to know you don’t have the old AirPods right? The new earbuds are slightly smaller and now come with flexible, silicone ear tips for a more secure, sealed in-ear fit. Three different sizes of these tips come in the box. Aesthetic differences aside, the AirPods Pro have built-in microphones that detect external sound which then gets cancelled out, offering the highly-rumoured noise cancellation feature. Along with noise cancellation, Transparency Mode lets users hear noise from their surroundings while wearing the AirPods, activated by new force sensors. The new “Adaptive EQ” feature automatically tunes music to the shape of your ear.

Just like the second-gen AirPods, the AirPods Pro support wireless charging and hands-free voice commands. However, the new AirPods are both sweat and water-resistant, perfect for those rainy, outdoor runs and sweaty gym sessions.

 

Twitter implements a ban on political ads

In an announcement made this week by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, the social media platform will stop selling adverts concerning candidates for office, elections or political issues such as immigration and climate change. In a series of tweets, Dorsey unveiled the incoming policy changes which will take effect next month. He stated that the reach of political messages should be “earned” by getting people to follow an account or share a tweet rather than being “bought” through advertising.

The change in policy comes as the debate over political messages on social media platforms heats up ahead of the 2020 US elections. Twitter’s social media mammoth counterpart Facebook has been widely criticised over allowing politicians to lie in ads on its platform, with executives defending their policy through a means of safeguarding free speech.

 

Follow @Designer_Webs on Twitter for more tech news and insight!

 

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Tech news roundup

How time flies! Another week has zipped by, and it's time once again for our Friday roundup of key tech stories from the past few days.

BERT helps Google to deliver more relevant search results

Google Search processes more than 5 billion searches per day, and a fair number of those (roughly 15% according to Google themselves) use queries that the search engine has never seen before. So how does The Big G deliver an accurate answer when it's completely unfamiliar with the question?

Well, we haven't yet reached the point where computers can understand word strings in the same way humans can, but Google announced this week that they'd taken a great big step towards that goal. BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is a neural network-based technology that helps Google Search to "process words in relation to all the other words in a sentence, rather than one by one in order".

What this means is that, in theory, Google will no longer overlook the importance of a word like 'to' in the query '2019 brazil traveller to usa need a visa'. On its own, the word 'to' may seem unimportant, but it has a big impact on the meaning of that search term as a whole. This is one example of how BERT will help Google Search to deliver more relevant answers.

This change will supposedly impact the Google results shown for 1 in 10 English-language searches. Read Google's own blog post on BERT here.

Pixel 4 has arrived

In other Google-related news, the company's latest smartphone - Pixel 4 - is now available.

Pixel 4's key selling points include:

  • Google assistant
  • Motion sense
  • Improved camera

Not to mention the very colourful advert, which you can view on Twitter.

The news - brought to you by Facebook

Finally, some US users spotted a new feature in the Facebook app this week. Facebook News will feature content from publishers like BuzzFeed News and The Wall Street Journal, some - but not all - of whom will be paid for their participation.

The shiny new Facebook News tab will be curated by human editors, and users can personalise the tab to make sure they're only seeing stories that interest them. This feature hasn't rolled out in the UK yet - it's not even widespread in America at the moment - but we could be seeing it on our phones before long.

Follow @Designer_Webs on Twitter for more tech news and insight!

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Tech news roundup

Another working week is almost over, but before we switch off our computers and crank up our Friday night playlist, there's just time for a quick roundup of some interesting tech / SEO stories from the past few days...

Google rolls out new 'Search by photos' feature

Eagle-eyed Google users spotted a new feature in the company's mobile search results this week. Certain local search terms - such as pizza in Cardiff - now deliver a 'Search by photos' section that looks like this:

This section doesn't appear to have any fixed position, and it only seems to show up for queries with clear local intent (e.g. 'Italian restaurants in Chester' or 'wedding dress shops near me'). Nevertheless, this new addition to the SERP could present a great opportunity for local businesses to flaunt their visual appeal and engage with potential customers nearby.

Pinterest releases slimmed-down mobile app

On Monday, Pinterest launched a 'Lite' version of their mobile application. Where the standard iOS Pinterest app takes up approximately 143 MB, Pinterest Lite weighs in at just 1.4 MB - that's less than 1% of the main app's size!

Pinterest Lite is now available to Android users in the following territories:

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • Peru

The 'Lite' app's primary aim is to make Pinterest more accessible to users in these emerging markets.

Google Maps offers additional assistance for visually-impaired users

Google Maps can be very useful when you need directions, but the tool's usefulness is somewhat limited if you're unable to see the directions it provides.

However, that may not be the case for much longer. Visually-impaired Google Maps users in Japan and the USA can now access detailed voice guidance to help them reach their destination safely and efficiently.

Google have released this video showing the improved guidance in action:

Follow @Designer_Webs on Twitter for more tech news and insight!

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