Highlights from the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote

Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) kicked off with a lengthy keynote on Monday, June 8 in San Francisco. You might not have been able to attend but here are some highlights from the events first day.

Apple revealed the newest versions of its OS X and iOS 9 operating systems. Both of these operating systems are set to roll out to everyone this fall, free of charge. But if you can’t wait until then, Apple is offering public beta’s for both starting in July while developers can try out a beta starting now.

OS X, named El Capitan, is the newest operating system for iMacs, Macbooks, and Mac Pro. El Capitan will be bringing updates to mail, spotlight search function and Siri. Apple says users can also expect faster app launches and a new multi-task function allowing for side-by-side windows.

The iOS 9 update will be for Apple mobile devices iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Apple claims iOS 9 will be bringing improvements to Siri, promising 40 percent more accuracy and faster response times. Battery life is supposed to get an upgrade with the update as well. Apple says iPhone users can expect up to an hour more battery life with a full charge and typical use. A new low power mode is supposed to extend battery life up to 3 hours for normal use.

The Maps app will now include a new Transit map with the iOS 9 upgrade. Transit map is designed to appeal to those living in larger cities by offering features like step-by-step walking instead of just driving directions. Transit Map will first be available in 10 cities: Baltimore, Berlin, Chicago, London, Mexico City, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Toronto, and Washington DC.

Apple also announced it is expanding Apple Pay with more retailers now participating. Discover Card will be joining Apple Pay as well as Best Buy, Trader Joe’s and Dunkin Donuts. Apple Pay will also be expanding further internationally by coming to the United Kingdom some time in July.

Image via Apple

More in: Breaking News


Google I/O 2016: What to Expect From Google’s Developer Conference

Google I/O 2016: What to Expect From Google's Developer Conference


  • Google I/O 2016 starts on Wednesday, May 18.
  • A new version of Android will be announced at the conference.
  • Hardware developments like a standalone VR headset are also likely.

All the major tech companies such as Google, Apple, and Facebook hold annual developer conferences which have become huge events that routinely see major announcements that matter not just to the developers in the audience, but also to general consumers. Coming up this week is Google I/O, which will take place from May 18 through May 20 in Mountain View, California. If you’re following along from India, Gadgets 360 will of course have news directly from the venue on Wednesday night, and you can also visit Google’s IO site to see the event schedule.

Before I/O, there has already been a bit of speculation about what to expect in terms of announcements at the conference. There’s been plenty of talk about augmented reality, virtual reality, new hardware, and new versions of Android. Here is what we think you should expect from Google I/O 2016.

Android N
This seems like a pretty safe bet to make at this stage. The early developer beta for Android N started a couple of months ago, and has features such as multi-window support, better notifications and doze, background optimisations, and much more.google_multi_window_support_screenshot.jpg(Also see: Android N Features: What’s New and Improved)

Most people expect the final version of Android N to launch at I/O as is typically the case for Google’s Android updates – and we’ll also finally get to know what the ‘N’ stands for.

A new VR headset
One more thing sounds like a pretty safe bet right now – that we’re going to get a standalone VR headset from Google, which will not require a smartphone to power it. The headset may be called Android VR, and is likely to fall somewhere between Samsung’s Gear VR, and high end PC-powered headsets such as the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive.oculus_rift_black_inside_new.jpg(Also see: Mobile VR Guide – How to Pick the VR Headset That’s Right for You)

A new version of Cardboard
The standalone headset isn’t the only interesting rumour around Google and VR though – we’re also possibly getting a new version of Google Cardboard which will feature better sensors and better lenses.google_vr_headset_io15_official.jpgSelf-driving cars
Google’s been making steady progress on autonomous vehicles, and it doesn’t take a genius to guess that Google will want to do some demos of the technology, and possibly even have some announcement ready for what could well be the future of transportation. So far, the focus has been on showing people how normal a self-driving car can feel, and Google wouldn’t want to pass up the opportunity to share that with its audience.

driverless_car_wp.jpgSome Project Tango news
Project Tango could revolutionise both virtual reality, and augmented reality, making both accessible at low prices. Lenovo is already working on the devices, and other manufacturers will no doubt follow. Project Tango could be used for accurate indoor mapping; or depth sensing for augmented reality so you could very accurately redesign your entire house on your phone, for example; or for gesture tracking in virtual reality so you could not just look around but also lean in and directly interact with objects.

It’s been in the works for a long time now, and we got our first look at it in devices at CES 2016 – the technology holds great potential, and if Google has managed to polish it up for consumer devices then it’s definitely going to show it off at I/O.intel_idf_google_project_tango_kit_ndtv.jpgProject Ara
Another R&D project from Google that’s been quiet for a while is Project Ara, aiming to develop modular smartphones where you could theoretically upgrade the hardware over time. It’s a very ambitious concept that has faced some setbacks, but Google has stuck to it.

ATAP, the team in Google responsible for Project Ara, will be making an appearance at I/O, and although the specifics of their session have not been revealed, it seems like a logical conclusion to draw that Ara will be discussed, and hopefully shown, at Google I/O 2016.project_ara_modular_phone_spiral2_prototype.jpgChirp
Another project that sounds exciting is Chirp – an Amazon Echo rival Google is reported to be working on. Like Echo, Chirp is supposed to be a wireless speaker that integrates Google Search and Google’s Voice Assistant, and can be activated by saying “Okay, Google”.

Reports suggest that Chirp won’t be ready to launch at I/O but with other companies also working on similar devices, it’s possible that Google might consider at least talking about the product.

New Nexus phones
While Google I/O is traditionally not the place Google launches its Nexus smartphones, things may be different this year. After all, Google has already released an early preview of its latest version of Android, and it usually launches its Nexus smartphones alongside the final version of its new Android version. Android N is expected to be released in its final form at I/O, lining up the dots. Information about the new smartphones is still pretty scarce at this point however, indicating Google will follow its regular pattern and release the smartphones in the third quarter – last year, it launched the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P at a September event. This year, HTC is tipped to be launching two Nexus device.htc_nexus_render_sketch_llabtoofer_weibo.jpgApart from this, it’s possible that we’ll hear more about Android Wear, Chrome OS, and smart home projects from Google as well, though at this point, details are scarce. We’ll know soon enough though, once Google I/O starts on Wednesday.

Tags: Android, Android N, Android VR, Autonomous vehicles, Google, Google Cardboard, Google Developers, Google IO, Nexus,Project Ara, Project Tango

Search-marketing Insights from Connect Search Engine Watch Conference

I recently attended the Connect Search Engine Watch Conference in Miami. The conference covered two tracks — “Engage with Organic” and “Innovate with Paid” — over two days. I spent my time on the organic track the first day and the paid track the second.

In this article, I’ll share my observations from the conference.

1. Local search optimization is strongly influenced by Google My Business, as Google Plus sunsets into Photos and Stream. Other key factors in local search optimization are as follows.

  • User behavior that indicates positive or negative engagement. A negative behavior is “pogo-sticking,” where users click on a search result, view the page, and quickly return to the search results.
  • External local referrals.
  • Social interaction — not the number of followers or fans, but how are they engaging.
  • Mobile-optimized: Responsive design is not the only answer.
  • On-page personalization.
  • Hierarchy, page organization, and URL pathways.
  • Site index size: how many pages rank vs. how many pages are indexed.
  • Page speed — i.e., load times.

2. SEO diagnostics and tracking important. SEO diagnostics need to be investigative, reactive (to negative changes) and proactive. Investigative focuses on technical — on-page and off.

3. Search result cards are a huge opportunity to dominate organic search results, as less and less organic space is available, especially on mobile devices. Search result cards can be knowledge-based, event-based, local-business based, and product-based. For example, the search query “how do i drive on icy roads?” produced a card with eight tips on driving in these conditions, pointing to a page from KSL Broadcasting in Salt Lake City.

4. Develop SEO to help searchers complete a task, to be most relevant in the searcher’s journey. For example, building a knowledge page to answer the question “how to hardwire under cabinet LED lighting” could provide useful information for people thinking about this type of project. But you could also provide promotions and coupons for manufacturers and LED lighting products.

5. All search is local search. One of the most insightful presentations was from BrightEdge, the SEO platform. The speaker stressed that every search is a local search, as competition is now even fiercer with just a “three pack” of organic local results showing — down from seven. However, since the search results shows websites, reviews, and directions, there are much better interactions if you are one of the top three.

6. “Near me.” Develop pages to answer queries that end in “…near me”. Google is increasingly autocompleting queries that could be applicable to local searches with the words “near me”, as in, “movie theaters near me,” or “oil changes near me.”

7. Monitor local citations. Website owners must constantly monitor their local-listing citations for NAP — Name, Address, Phone — consistency. Claim listings from leading directories — such as Yelp, Foursquare, Dex, Superpages, YP — to clean up data, remove duplications, and add content, such as photos and videos.

8. Avinash Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist for Google, was the keynote speaker.
I’m a huge fan of Kauskik. His speaking at this conference was one of my primary reasons for attending. I could write an entire article about his groundbreaking insights intomeasuring social media effectiveness by stressing conversion, amplification, applause rate, and economic value. I’ve addressed it here, too, at “Social Engagement for Ecommerce: How to Build, Measure, Improve.”

To summarize Kaushik’s presentation, demographic and psychographic data is much less relevant in the face of digital data, which reveals intent. In fact, once we do away with demographic modeling and marketing funnels, we can approach consumer engagement in an entirely different way.

Kaushik’s new model for determining consumers’ intent is See – Think – Do – Care.

Kaushik's model for determining consumers' purchase intent is See – Think – Do – Care.

Kaushik’s model for determining consumers’ purchase intent is See – Think – Do – Care.

  • “See” is the largest addressable, quantifiable audience. This is the awareness portion of your engagement with shoppers, the earliest point in their journey.
  • “Think” is weak intent, where the shopper may be considering your option, or competitors’ options, or other ways to complete their journey.
  • “Do” is strong intent, and where ecommerce tends to focus (the conversion). Merchants are typically good at optimizing for conversion, but not the early-stage engagement in the “See” and “Think” stages.
  • “Care” is the outreach to customers who have bought from you two or more times. This is the greatest opportunity for merchants to build meaningful and relevant relationships with their brand ambassadors.

Kaushik emphasized that each point in the customer journey requires a different kind of outreach. He dispelled the traditional marketing funnel that shoves all potential customers into one pathway and attempts to convert them through the small end of the funnel.

His approach is a different way to look at customer engagement, whereby merchants should develop content to address intent rather than an artificial demographic or persona. Advertising and outreach efforts are then aligned with each segment of this journey. Merchants should then evolve how to measure success, aligning their metrics with intent, as well as the desired business outcome.

9. Cross-device attribution. The speaker from IgnitionOne, a digital marketing suite, stressed cross-device attribution as one of the most important metrics in deciding how to arrange and optimize content. Last touch attribution is now woefully inadequate in the digital landscape of multiple devices, apps, and platforms.

10. Relevance to customers. Another way to rethink the funnel is in terms of your company’s relevance to your customer: You are successful if you get your content shared with your audience’s audience. I have addressed social sharing platforms, by the way.

11. Engage for the moment. The last speaker of the conference, from Fospha, a profiling and optimization platform, appropriately closed with comments about optimizing customer value by understanding engagement at that moment. Sophisticated digital platforms are now incorporating content engagement, real-time intent prediction, and “journey stitching” to create that moment.

These modeling platforms emphasize key engagement points:

  • Looking at behavior from the perspective of one silo makes sense until you look at the entire customer journey, which can change predictive behavior dramatically;
  • Model after the customer mindset;
  • Model across the entire customer journey;
  • Deliver real-time triggers for real-time intent prediction;
  • Start simple with your predictive modeling.

The recurring theme of modeling content and measuring for consumers’ engagement across their entire purchase journey was, for me, the biggest take-away from this worthwhile conference.