Google I/O 2013

This past week, Google wrapped up its annual developers’ conference in San Francisco, Calif., giving us a look into the future of one of the most powerful companies. Google I/O features highly technical, in-depth sessions geared towards developers. Over 6000 developers on-site, 460 I/O Extended sites in 90 countries and millions around the world tuned in to the live-stream  indicating just how popular Google is and the excitement surrounding their big announcements. The Keynote speech offers a look into product and platform innovations Google has planned for the upcoming year.

Here’s a quick summary of what you missed at the 2013 Keynote:

Google+
Google+ is being updated with 41 new features. The most significant being the content feed. The new design was unveiled, and appears to look like a combination of the Facebook timeline and Pinterest. This new interface allows for easy content exploration and places an emphasis on images and links. Each photo flips over to reveal more information about the subject. The new Google+ is hyper-intelligent, with its automated hashtags, letting you find relevant content that much easier. A significant update to Google+ is the new automatic photo enhancement feature and the new highlight view for albums. Based on a variety of factors, Google can stop duplicate images from appearing, emphasize photos with friends or know landmarks, and even filter out blurry pictures. Google+ Hangouts also got an upgrade, streamlining your online conversations to any device or platform.

Android
Google announced 900 million Android activations and 48 billion app downloads to date. They will be releasing a stock Android Galaxy S4, rather than the Samsung interface. The phone will be available for purchase in the Google Play store on June 26, but it won’t come cheap — the price is set at a steep $649.

Google Play
An obvious update to Google Play is the store’s visual appearance, but behind the scenes there have also been improvements. You can now get suggestions based on your personalized preferences, chosen by Google. In addition, Google introduced Google Play for Education, a store specifically for educational institutions. Google Play Games has added the ability for cloud gaming, so if you stop playing on one device, you can seamlessly pick back up on another device. Lastly, Google Play Music is offering a new $9.99 monthly streaming service, similar to Spotify and Rdio. Google Play Music All Access is radio without rules. Google is offering a free monthly trial, and if you sign up before June 8th, you can use the service for only $7.99 a month.

Maps
Google Maps continues to stay one step ahead of the competition, and this big update will ensure they do just that. Maps has been redesigned to be fully interactive and tailored to you. The service gets better the more you use it as it adapts to your preferences and is able to suggest restaurants you may enjoy or even the fastest route home. With the integration between Maps and Google Earth, you will be able to explore cities in 3D and view “3D Photo Tours” for a virtual sightseeing experience. Google added several new types transportation, including a flight search, they improved public transit information significantly and are including live traffic reports. You will also have the ability to compare different modes of transportation to see which one is best for you. To be one of the first to try to new Google Maps, you have to request an invite.

Glass
Glass has the potential to be “the next big thing” in technology. Although not part of the keynote, Google Glass was a big topic for day 2 of the conference and stole the show. During the I/O, Official apps for Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Evernote were debuted. Glass sessions focused on product development and building “glassware.” There was also a Q&A period that covered privacy implications and government restrictions. Google Glass is most likely the first step on a long journey of wearable technology. It’ll be interesting to see how it’s received by the general public when it becomes available at the end of the year.

If you would like to view the Keynote in its entirety, it’s available on YouTube (warning: it’s three and half hours long). Google never ceases to impress the world with their advances in technology. We’ll be looking forward to seeing what Google comes up with next.

 —Rachel Keeton

 

Social Media Scandals, Scams and Security Updates

Brands got a rude awakening this week. Turns out, social media is not as secure as the Defense Department. Or even a pre-school, really.

“Twitter has a problem: While the social network is trying to woo brands and advertising money to its platform, companies’ Twitter accounts keep getting hacked.” – CNN Money

 

Twitter Hack

Photo by: Photo Giddy

The Twitter “leak fiasco” started back in 2009, when personal accounts of Twitter employees were hacked. With an increasing number of accounts and services related to Twitter it became very difficult to manage the huge amount of data. Therefore, the system without an extra security features appeared to be fragile and easy to break into. It was Fox News’ twitter account next. The portal with more than 2 million followers was hacked in 2011 and, therefore, assassinated.

During the last week, scary news about major brands being hacked came out and now we are all waiting what’s going to happen next. Jeep and Burger King’s Twitter accounts have been broken into.

Social media is by far the best one-on-one experience you can give your customers – no other media allows brands the opportunity to directly communicate with their customers in any sort of efficient manner. But brands seem to have forgotten they didn’t build the social platforms they prize but rather tuned-in to a conversation already in progress. Despite the recent Twitter security update, social platforms are not reinforced with the secrecy and security ad agencies offer that brands have taken for granted for so long.

Marketers should keep in mind the nature of the beast. Social media is a technology meant to gain its own momentum thanks to its viral nature, the same type of draw that lures hackers. Short of social media platforms completely revamping the structure of their site, marketers need to be hyper-mindful of their own security. In case of breach, social media marketing agencies should have a plan in and always remember to maintain a sense of humor and camaraderie in the aftermath of security failures – even with competitors.

— Co-written by Elena Nadtochiy & Ashlie Forchione

Talk Nerdy To Me – Nerd Nite Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor’s newest event aims to bring together two of the greatest things about growing up: feeling comfortable in your own skin and the ability to legally enjoy an after-work drink, in moderation. Nerd Nite is a growing global phenomenon that brings together self-proclaimed nerds in a relaxed bar setting where they can share interesting informational nerdy presentations.

3D Printing Example at Nerd Nite Ann Arbor

Photo by ashlieforchione

I had the opportunity to get involved in Nerd Nite Ann Arbor in its early stages. My sister, a developer/nerd, and some of her friends made it their mission to organize the first ever Nerd Nite in Ann Arbor. I went at first to support her; while they had invited nerds they knew, the ‘Bosses’ (Nerd Nite organizers) weren’t sure how many people would actually show. One invited nerd even digitally muttered their uncertainty about the event – there would be girls there, and alcohol. How nerdy could it be?

How very nerdy, indeed. At least 20 people had to be turned away at the door – all the extra standing room only spots were taken well before the first presentation on Nanotechnology. Though some nerds waited in another area of the bar, hoping to catch a glimpse of the next two presentations on 3D Printing (see above photo) and Data Visualization, it was to no avail. No one even left the presentation area for fear of losing their spot.

At the end of the first night, I knew Nerd Night Ann Arbor would be bigger than my sister ever hoped. So, I did what any good sister-nerd with digital marketing know-how would do. I offered to help manage their social media outreach, and get my digital-nerd on. See, while digital and social marketing is a job field I’m pursuing, it is also a passion of mine. Something to get ‘nerdy’ about, as any good-fitting job should be. The facebook page and twitter are already exploding. I’m geeked to see what we can do for the next event this February.

If this post has got you feeling nerdy, geeked out, or put you in touch with your inner poindexter, check out Nerd Nite Ann Arbor or just talk nerdy to me.

Google Maps for iOS is already a success

In case you missed it (and I doubt you did, but anyway), according to a Google+ post from Jeff Huber, he SVP of Geo and Commerce at Google, the Google Maps app for iOS was downloaded more than 10 million times in the first 48 hours of its launch, making it a huge success already! In fact, it became the top free app in the App Store just hours after debuting. I’m not going to lie, I downloaded it as soon as I found out.

“We’re excited for the positive reception of Google Maps for iPhone around the world. Congratulations to the Maps Team on the recognition for the passion and hard work they poured into it, for this release and over the last 7+ years.”

The Google Maps app made its debut after several months of rumors about a forthcoming app after it was removed from iOS 6 and replaced by an Apple-made mapping program that was not popular with users. Personally, I had no issues with it aside from the lack of public transportation integration, but Google’s app seems just as polished as the Apple-integrated one. What do you think? Have you downloaded the new Google Maps on your iPhone already? I know everybody at this particular social media agency has.

What Does X Equal?

TEDxDetroit, a local variation of the popular TED conference and talks, took place this past October at the GEM Theatre in downtown Detroit. The day was full of great ideas and great presentations about the great things people are doing to make a difference in their community.

Take Tom Nardone, for example – he’s a pumpkin carving artist, (which is cool in and of itself), but he organized something called the “Mower Gang“, a group of people who get together to mow the grass at Detroit’s abandoned parks and repair some of the equipment, or Andy Diordosi. who saw a huge gap in Detroit’s public transit service. He wanted to fix it, so he founded the Detroit Bus Company to fill in where the SMART system and the People Mover might not reach.

The day was filled with a positive spirit, an overwhelming energy, and optimism for the future of Detroit and Michigan, and this video was made to capture that for you:

Ingenex Digital Marketing was on hand at the event volunteering to do all of the social media agency-type work, but this video was a sort-of collaborative effort. The music was courtesy of one of the day’s performing bands, I Love Lighting Bugs. Photos were courtesy of some fantastic event attendees - Erin O’Neill,  Brandon Ross, Carter Sherline, Derek Mehraban, Jay Singleton, and Robin Maghielse, and the event itself was possible thanks to a major part by Charlie Wolborg, the organizer of TEDxDetroit.

I Fought the Law and Social Media Won

We’ve all heard the warnings to be conscientious about what we decide to post on our social networks. Personally, I just make sure I don’t post anything that my grandma won’t like. But it seems more and more people are running into trouble with the law because of what they’ve posted on their pages. Last month there were two separate cases of Twitter users threatening President Obama. One was a teenage girl who is being investigated by the Secret Service and the other was an adult male who was arrested. Another teenage girl maybe in trouble with police for faking her own kidnapping on her Twitter account. Not only did she become a trending topic, #helpfindkara, but she also launched a full police search for her.

Not surprisingly people all over the world want police to use social media more to help fight and prevent crime. At the moment the majority of officials rely on one way forms of communication such as newspapers, televisions, and radio; social media would allow them to investigate faster and more efficiently. Social media users share personal information and obviously feel comfortable sharing a lot more, if the above cases are any indication, so it only seems natural that police use that to their advantage. How do you feel about the police using social media; should they be allowed to access people’s private content on these networks?

Me and my laptop, strolling down the avenue

I like my laptop. I mean, I REALLY like my laptop. I was recently asked what is the one thing I couldn’t live without and I said, yes, “My laptop.” I wasn’t entirely kidding. I rely on it quite a bit in addition to things like, oh, food, water, oxygen, shelter, and clothing.

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

It’s hard to believe I didn’t own a laptop until about five years ago. “Are you crazy?” a friend asked me in my pre-laptop days. “Why don’t you have one? You seriously need one! It’s awesome!” I didn’t understand what she meant then, but I do now.

My laptop is my “all in one” device. I use it for practically everything related to creating and consuming media — Internet browsing, sending/receiving
e-mail, writing copy, editing video, watching DVDs, listening to music, etc.

Then, there’s the portability. I use my laptop at the digital marketing firm where I work, at home, the library, the coffee shop, etc. The fact that I can take it wherever aids in productivity — a change in location will usually reinvigorate me if I’m working on a project and I start to lose focus.

My first laptop was a Dell. I used it for a few years before buying a MacBook Pro. It was a huge upgrade! The difference is in the hardware — the screen is much clearer and brighter, the speakers are superior, the trackpad is easier to maneuver, there’s a built in memory card slot, etc. I’ve always liked Apple products, but I have so much more regard for them now.

It’s interesting how we form attachments to products. I take note when Apple introduces new merchandise and people wait outside the company’s stores for days to buy it. I can’t see myself doing that, but I do have some understanding why the company inspires such loyalty and even fanaticism. I spend so much time on my laptop doing so many different things that it’s hard not to feel at least some connection to both Apple products and the Apple brand.

Row, row, row your show, gently down the stream

Online video streaming is pretty convenient, wouldn’t you say?

I now stream most of my entertainment online which is why I haven’t been inside a video store in years. A trip to the video store used to be such a routine part of enjoying TV shows and movies. Now, the concept almost seems archaic – driving to the store, browsing the shelves, waiting in line to check out a DVD, having to return a film to the same location, etc. And don’t forget late fees! Oh, those late fees!

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

What had been a successful business model for years began to erode once the concept of online streaming caught on with the public and the amount of available content became extensive. Blockbuster, once the nation’s dominant provider of home video and video game rental services, filed for bankruptcy in 2010. My independent neighborhood video store closed long before that.

I’ve been a Netflix member for a few years now, and I subscribe to their streaming service. I’m fond of documentary programming and they have an extensive selection of shows from National Geographic, Discovery, and History Channel. I’ve also watched several cable TV shows via streaming – “Mad Men,” “Weeds,” “Louie,” etc.

It’s been interesting to observe Netflix’s business model change as a result of streaming. When I first joined, the company primarily handled DVD rentals. Their streaming selection was limited and it was included as a bonus to members. Now, their offerings are vast and feature many newly released mainstream movies. The service now holds real value, and so I can understand why Netflix recently began offering streaming as a separate service.

And then there’s YouTube. I admit that I’ve enjoyed all the top viral videos along with what seems like the rest of the general viewing public – “Chocolate Rain,” “Friday,” “Charlie Bit My Finger,” etc. I’m amazed that a family video of one brother biting another brother can be viewed 484 million times!

I love the controlled chaos of YouTube. It’s like decades of pop culture exploded and landed on the site. YouTube satisfies whatever random thing happens to enter my head at any given time on any given day – a favorite scene from a movie, a song I enjoyed when I was a teen. It’s rare that I can’t find something.

Again, streaming comes down to convenience and accessibility, concepts the digital marketing agency knows well. If the mantra of today’s consumer of news and entertainment is “I want what I want when I want it,” then providers like Netflix and YouTube are happy to oblige.

Why Mobile Payment Applications Like Square Are the Future

Jack Dorsey. If you’re anyone who’s into social media at all, I’m sure you have heard of him. Dorsey is a founder of both Twitter and Square. He currently holds positions as Executive Chairman of Twitter and Chief Executive Officer of Square. If you’re not familiar with the company, Square is a tool that gives merchants the ability use their tablets or smartphones to process customer credit or debit transactions. Currently, Square is used by two million merchants – most of them small businesses. Merchants can swipe a customer’s credit card on the Square device (given free to merchants) or manually enter credit card information. Merchants must pay 2.75% of every transaction to Square in order to be able to use the application. Square says that it will be successful because, overall, its costs are lower than traditional credit card processors.

Business Insider gives four reasons as to why businesses should be using Square instead of conventional credit card readers:

  1. The middle man is eliminated
  2. Flat fee – 2.75% per swipe or $275 a month
  3. Analytics are provided
  4. Fast processing

Personally, I think Square is an excellent use of the tablets and smartphones that most businesses and the digital marketing company already have. Using Square is even eco-friendly! Customers have the option of receiving an electronic receipt, which can cut down of vast amounts of paper. Using a tablet or a smartphone as a tool for making payments is a use for these devices that I would not have considered previously. Are there any other uses of tablets or smartphones that you can think of that are unexpected, but have worked out well?

Holy Storage Space, Batman!

I’m amazed at the dramatic increase in digital storage capacity in the last decade and a half. I was going through my storage unit one day last week after work at Ingenex Digital Marketing, and I came across my old SyQuest disk. I bought it for a desktop publishing class in the mid-90s, and I used it to save flyers and other print materials I had designed. The disk is a removable hard drive that measures 5.25 square inches — huge by today’s standards. Despite its size, however, it holds a mere 44MG, or megabytes. It was the largest storage unit I had at the time.

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

Now, I carry a 1GB, or gigabyte, flash drive in my backpack for whatever miscellaneous items I might want to upload/download — text documents, photos, etc. I also have a 500MB external hard drive that mostly contains image files. And then I own a 2TB, or terabyte, external hard drive, which I use exclusively for videos. I was curious on the size differences so I asked my friend, a math teacher, to do the calculations.

1,000K = 1MB
1,000MB = 1GB
1,000GB = 1TB

Therefore…

1GB is about 23 times(x) 44MB
500GB is 11,500x 44MB
2TB is 46,000x 44MB

Needless to say, that’s a huge jump in only 15 years! But, what does this mean as far as the larger social picture? I wasn’t sure, so I pulled in one of my co-workers here at Ingenex. Her blunt assessment: we’re a culture that likes to accumulate “stuff” and all this space encourages us to acquire more “stuff.” (Truth be told, she used the other “s” word.) She mentioned, as an example, that she has saved every paper she ever wrote in college. She admitted that she doesn’t need to hold onto the documents, and hasn’t read many since the time of her studies.

Personally, I take hundreds of digital photos whenever I go on a trip. I store the photos on the 500MB hard drive I mentioned, but rarely look at any. Actually, a lot of the images aren’t even that great — I’ve been known to take snapshots of trash. It was interesting at the time! And then there’s music. I’ve downloaded hundreds of songs over the years. I’ll hear a song playing in a store or on the radio while driving, and I’ll acquire the track soon after. More often than not, I’ll listen to it once or twice before losing interest.

So, why do we keep all this unnecessary digital material? What compels us to hold onto so much, as my co-worker calls it, “stuff?” Because we can! The technology is available and we gladly use it — which reminds me of an old Doritos commercial. The tagline went: “Go ahead and crunch. We’ll make more.” Well, the producers of digital storage could very well amend the slogan to: “Go ahead and store. We’ll add more space.”