After spending a little time with Tim Cook, The Telegraph’s Allister Heath couldn’t be more pumped for the soon-to-launch Apple Watch. Heath takes it at face value when Apple’s CEO says the smartwatch has become an indispensible device in his life. (Of course, Cook got one before everyone else.) He’s also intrigued by the idea that the Watch will operate a special rewards system. “Users will get credits if they exercise enough,” he marvels. Among other “potentially revolutionary uses,” Heath can’t believe that the watch was also designed to replace car keys!
Further refining search results for users accessing Google search on mobile devices, the search giant will now user a site’s “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal. What’s more, “information from indexed mobile applications will also begin to influence ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed on their smartphone,” TechCrunch notes. Google is pointing publishers to a number of resources to prepare for the changes, including its guide to mobile-friendly sites, its Mobile-Friendly Testing tool, and its Mobile Usability Report.
For a mere $25 million, Google just became the proud owner of the “.app” top-level Web domain. It is believed to be the most ever spent on a domain. “Though Google hasn't announced specific plans for .app, the purchase could give the company a creative way to promote apps as more search shifts to mobile,” Business Insider suggests. ICANN, the organization that controls the world’s domain names, has been auctioning them off since June 2014.
At least one ad tech firm is ready to rely on drones to deliver mobile ads to nearby consumers. Testing the model around L.A., Singapore-based location marketing firm Adnear is using the flying machines to determine mobile devices’ locations from Wi-Fi and cell transmission signals. A client -- say, a local coffee shop -- can then pay Adnear to deliver mobile ads to people in the area. For the model to work, “A mobile user needs to have an app open that is transmitting via cellular or Wi-Fi,” Venture Beat reports. Yet, “The app does not need to be sending …
Microsoft is reportedly developing an app that will let users track the whereabouts of nearby friends, and then call or message them. People Sense, as the new app is apparently named, will also leverage Microsoft’s Bing Maps, “giving users detailed directions to their friends’ current locations,” The Daily Dot reports. “This would be useful if someone is lost or if, you know, you just want to drop in on someone unexpectedly.” Apple, Facebook, and other tech giants already offer similar services.
Perhaps preparing to soup-up GarageBand, it looks like Apple has acquired music plug-in and effect maker Camel Audio. Before the paid service shut its doors at the beginning of the year, “Its powerful engine was highly useful to those who liked to create and manipulate audio for unique sounds,” MacRumors reports. “Camel Audio is known for its range of plug-ins, synthesizers, effects, and sound libraries, which were available via the company's Alchemy software.”
Fast Company looks into Line -- the messaging service that has taken Japan by storm, and has its cites set on U.S. consumers. “Less than four years after Line’s launch, the company says that more than 560 million people worldwide have registered as members, the majority of them in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand,” FC reports. “181 million users log in to the Line app each month.” Even more impressive, “Line has done a remarkable job of turning its popularity into a growing, diversified business.”
Vice is preparing a weekly half-hour “talk show” for YouTube. Named “On the Line,” Samsung has also signed up to provide on-demand replays on the consumer-electronics maker’s Milk Video service exclusively for a 72-hour window, Variety reports. “After the livestream ends, ‘On the Line’ will be edited down to a 4-5 minute clip -- which will be available exclusively to users of Samsung Galaxy tablets and smartphones.”
Doubling down on its unparalleled retail strategy, Apple is reportedly considering dedicated stores to showcase its forthcoming smartwatch. In a test, “Apple is constructing a dedicated display for the upcoming Apple Watch in some upscale Paris-based retail outlets,” 9To5Mac writes, citing various reports. “While these claims for France are still unconfirmed, sources have told us that Apple is considering constructing dedicated Apple Watch retail stores in the future if demand deems such outlets necessary.”
Expanding its storytelling repertoire, BuzzFeed just scooped up “visual conversation” startup GoPop. Once known to the world as Zeega, GoPop makes an app that turns pictures into simple animations. “You can probably see some kinship there already, given BuzzFeed’s well-known fondness for GIFs,” TechCrunch reports. Per the deal, GoPop CEO Jesse Shapins will now lead product for the core app team, while his co-founder and CTO James Burns will lead a new experimental app group.