Hello digital dreamers,
Here’s what happened this week in the fastest moving industry of 2016:
1. Google Reminds Webmasters of Guidelines
Search Engine Land has the full story:
“Google issued a stern warning this morning on the Google Webmaster Blog saying that they are reminding webmasters that links within widgets can be against their webmaster guidelines.
Googlers, Agnieszka Łata, Trust & Safety Search Team and Eric Kuan, Webmaster Relations Specialist wrote “we would like to reiterate our policy on the creation of keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites.” Google shared that while many widgets can enhance your web site experience, “some widgets add links to a site that a webmaster did not editorially place and contain anchor text that the webmaster does not control.” Google explained “because these links are not naturally placed, they’re considered a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.”
Google is reminding widget makers to remove the links from their widgets are add the rel=”nofollow” attribute to the links. If they do not, Google said the “webspam team may take manual actions on unnatural links.” If you do get a manual action for this, Google said you need to remove the links or add the rel=”nofollow” before submitting a reconsideration request.
Additionally, those that embed these widgets on their site should “add a rel=”nofollow” attribute on those unnatural links or remove the links entirely from the widget,” Google said later on in their blog post.”
2. Google’s AI Starts Talking
Tech Insider has details:
“Google DeepMind claims to have significantly improved computer-generated speech with its AI technology, paving the way forward for sophisticated talking machines like those seen in sci-fi films like “Her” and “Ex-Machina.”
The London-based research lab,acquired by Google in 2014 for a reported £400 million,announced on Thursday that it has developed a talking computer programme called “WaveNet” that halves the quality gap that currently exists between human speech and computer speech.
Although WaveNet sounds more like a human voice than existing artificial voice generators — known as “text-to-speech” (TTS) systems — it requires too much computing power to make it practical, meaning Google won’t be integrating it into its products any time soon, according to The Financial Times.
Aäron van den Oord, a research scientist, at DeepMind said: “Mimicking realistic speech has always been a major challenge, with state-of-the-art systems, composed of a complicated and long pipeline of modules, still lagging behind real human speech. Our research shows that not only can neural networks learn how to generate speech, but they can already close the gap with human performance by over 50%.”
3. iPhone 7’s New Features
The Globe and Mail has the full story:
“Since the days when Steve Jobs was a brash, young, clean-shaven wunderkind, Apple Inc. has been known for carefully managed press events, heightening the drama for its latest gadgets on its computerized products. On Wednesday, the company scooped itself, accidentally unveiling some key details of the new iPhone 7 more than an hour early. Still, CEO Tim Cook and company managed to pack some interesting and new features and choices into what became a somewhat anti-climactic event.
Here are five new things about the iPhone:
1: No jack in the box
The most dramatic change? Abandoning an audio standard ubiquitous across wireless devices of all kinds. The 3.5 mm analog audio jack is gone, being replaced by wired EarPod headphones that plug into the proprietary Lightning connector. “Some people asked why we would remove the headphone jack,” said Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller: “One word: courage.” Perhaps courageously expecting this would be seen as a user-hostile move Apple is also shipping a Lightning/analog dongle adaptor in the box – a first for for a company that has frequently made old connectors obsolete with nary a concern about the abandoned users – that will allow users to keep their old analog audio devices around for a while yet.
2: Wireless but not untethered
Apple also announced new wireless AirPod headphones that connect to the phone via BlueTooth. This is a growing category according to IHS Markit Senior Analyst Paul Erickson, “We have wireless headphones at 22 per cent of North America’s headphone market by year end, and 20 per cent of Western Europe at year end (2016). Global annual shipment volume for 2016, total earbuds and headphones we put at 316 million units.” Apple’s AirPods seem incredibly powerful with their own onboard system on a chip, tap-sensing interface, impressive microphones and a laughably weak five-hour of listening battery. The headphones charge in a small pill-shaped carrying case you’ll need to bring with you. The AirPods will be sold separately starting in late October, and will cost $159 (U.S.). Apple subsidiary Beats (the No. 3 headphone company by unit volume according to IHS) will also release larger format over-the-ear headphones with as much as 24 hours of listening time.
3: Cameras remain a key investment for Apple
With every social media platform from SnapChat to Facebook and Twitter increasingly focussed on live video, not to mention enhanced image forms like 360-degree capture, Apple spent an inordinate amount of time discussing its upgraded image sensors. The 7 Plus adds a second 12 megapixel camera to the chassis, one is a wide angle, the other is a telephoto 56mm-equivilent lens that allows a zooming feature better than any single-lens smartphone camera could achieve. The front-facing selfie camera is also pushed to a 7 megapixel sensor. Apple’s cameras are not the beefiest offerings in all of smartphone-land, but they remain as good or better a total package than most.
4: Tweaks and updates
The new iPhones will sell for about the same price as the 2015 devices, except those with the new refined “jet black finish” which will not be available at the lowest price point. Orders open on Sept. 9, shipping starts on Sept. 16 to 28 “geographies” including Canada. The iPhone 7 also rebuilds the home button, changing it from a mechanical button to a force-sensitive sensor that now has so-called taptic feedback to give you a little tingle when you use it. Making space for these changes might also have had something to do with ditching the headphone jack. Apple’s updates to iMessage – new stickers, apps for things like payments and games – were a throwaway moment in the event, but the fight to integrate services into chat is the driving force behind companies like Kitchener, Ont.’s billion-dollar startup Kik and is an area with stiff competition from Facebook and China’s WeChat.
5: Waterproof, but not leak-proof
Apple lost control of its message on Wednesday before Mr. Cook even had the chance to get on stage.Through a mix of apparent incompetence by partners like Amazon.com — which posted product pages showing images of the new phone before the live-streamed press conference started at 1 p.m. ET — and from its own social media marketing team, which began promoting tweets of videos and the new phone that gave away core features. The tweets were deleted but not before savvy watchers screengrabbed and disseminated the images of the new waterproof iPhones. The images and videos previewed the lack of a headphone jack, and teased the dramatic camera improvements on the larger iPhone 7 Plus.”
Thanks folks, have a great weekend!
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