Friday, January 19, 2018

Dating App Hinge Has A New Feature

Hinge Dating App
Most of the recent dating apps will try to match users then leave it up to them to initiate their chat. When Bumble launched, however, it broke new ground by having women make the first move.

Last 21 December, Hinge introduced its own take on how conversations on dating apps should be handled with a new feature it's calling "Your Turn."

"Your Turn" is that it lets users decide who makes the first move, and then reminds users when it's their turn to respond.

In early tests, the company claims the feature helped to reduce ghosting behavior on its service by 25 percent.

Hinge CEO Justin McLeod explains the idea behind "Your Turn" first emerged from focus groups, where users told the company they didn't always abandon their conversations intentionally. Sometimes, they simply lost track of people in their inbox, or, 23 percent of the time, they just "got busy and forgot."

The Hinge team then developed a feature that would better flag conversations you hadn't responded to yet. This led to the creation of "Your Turn."

After the initial match where "Your Turn" helps get the conversation off the ground, the feature will then remind users when it's their "turn" to respond the conversation as the chat continues.

This addresses one of dating app's biggest problems - conversations can often start out well, but then fizzle out and are abandoned. "Your Turn" is a little nudge that someone wants to hear back.

That said, if the conversation isn't going well, Hinge users can now choose to hide the match so they can focus on those conversation where things are going better - that is, where there's more back-and-forth taking place. This helps to clean up the inbox without requiring users actually unmatch - something people are sometimes unwilling to do, because ... just in case.

The end result of "Your Turn" is two-fold - it reduces inbox clutter and makes it clear who's turn it is to chat next.

Hinge says it tested the feature last week in London and Washington, D.C. with tens of thousands of users and found that it decreased the number of matches that don't lead to a conversation by 25 percent.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Chrome Will Soon Block Annoying Ads

Google Office
Back in June 2017, Google announced that Chrome would start automatically blocking annoying internet ads in early 2018. The culprits are the ads that autoplay sound, force users to wait several seconds before the page loads, and otherwise ruin their browsing experience.

But now the public knows when this will go into effect. On February 15th, Chrome will begin blocking these noxious ads.

As VentureBeat points out, this is date isn't tied to the release of a particular Chrome version: Chrome 64 comes out on 23 January and Chrome 65 is scheduled for 6 March. In that case, Google will likely turn on the ad blocker remotely, though it's unclear if that applies to every instance of the browser.

Google first vowed to block these ads after joining the Coalition for Better Ads, which spotlights these types of bad advertisements in its Better Ads Standards. By cutting the most annoying offenders out, the Coalition hopes that users will stop employing ad blockers, which stop all ads from loading, thus crippling advertisement-centric revenue models.

Per Google's Developer Blog post, on 15 February Chrome will remove all ads from sites that continually violate the Better Ads Standards for more than 30 days. Affected site owners can submit their site for re-review after the violations have been fixed.

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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Amazon's Fire TV Now Has Firefox

Amazon Firefox
As Mozilla and Amazon announced last 21 December, Firefox, which joins Amazon's own Silk browser on the device, is now available for everyone's browsing needs.

"Bringing Firefox to Fire TV is an exciting new way to reach our users and serve up more of the full web to everyone," said Mark Mayo, Sr. Vice President of Firefox. "Firefox has always been about bringing the web directly to people no matter what device they’re using. Starting today, we will be able to expand the already great Fire TV experience by enabling viewers to surface a multitude of web content - including videos - through Firefox."

While Amazon's own press release boasts about how its Silk browser has been optimized for use on the Fire TV and with the Fire TV remote, the company doesn't quite give Mozilla's browser the same kind of billing in the announcement. As far as anybody can tell, Mozilla has done quite a bit of work to integrate its browser with the Fire TV remote and app, though.

Also, given that YouTube will likely disappear from Amazon devices at the beginning of January, thanks to a spat between Amazon and Google, it's no surprise that Mozilla is billing its browser as an easy way to watch YouTube videos. Unsurprisingly, Amazon makes no mention of YouTube in its announcement, but for Mozilla, this is surely a smart way of getting a few more users to install its browser.

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

Microsoft Improves Bing Search Results

Bing Search
At a special AI-focused event last 15 December in San Francisco, Microsoft announced a number of feature updates to Bing that it hopes will make results smarter leveraging the company's AI research as well as a new partnership with Reddit.

The company laid out the ways its injecting AI-smarts into its Bing search engine, which a Microsoft executives reiterated is actually used by a good amount of people - whether they know it or not - through partnerships with Yahoo. The company says that one-third of desktop search results in the US are done on Bing.

The updates are focused on bringing more conversational, nuanced answers to users in the "cards" UI being used by competitors like Google. New features starting to roll out include: Intelligent Search, Intelligent Image Search and Conversational Search.

"AI has come a long way in the ability to find information, but making sense of that information is the real challenge," said Kristina Behr, a partner design and planning program manager with Microsoft's Artificial Intelligence and Research group.

Intelligent and Conversational Search are pretty much just focused on ensuring that Microsoft stays competitive with Google in integrating machine learning-leveraged insights into search interpretations. One of the areas that they're looking to one-up Google interestingly is in giving users the opportunity to get multiple viewpoints on some questions so if they ask Google whether a certain type of food is healthy they may tell them what it's good for and where it might not be.

The search service isn't applying this to some of the more controversial queries, a quick search regarding marijuana health effects didn't surface an Intelligent Search card, same for questions regarding some hot button topics like abortion.

Intelligent Image Search is a pretty interesting evolution, allowing users to dive into searches so that you can not only find a photo of a celebrity but you can find more images of a piece of jewelry they are wearing. This works by just tapping a "search within image" button and it assumes what you're looking for, it's not perfect but it's better than I though it would be.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Regulation To Recast The Web Landscape

FCC
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted along party lines last 14 December to repeal landmark 2015 rules aimed at ensuring a free and open internet, setting up a court fight over a move that could recast the digital landscape.

The approval of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal in a 3-2 vote marked a victory for internet service providers such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon Communications and hands them power over what content consumers can access. It also is the biggest win for Pai in his sweeping effort to undo many telecommunications regulations since taking over at the agency in January.

Democrats, liberals, Hollywood and companies such as Google parent Alphabet and Facebook had urged Pai, a Republican appointed by U.S. President Donald Trump, to keep the Obama-era rules barring service providers from blocking, slowing access to or charging more for certain content. The new rules give internet service providers sweeping powers to change how consumers access the internet but must have new transparency requirements that will require them to disclose any changes to consumers.

The meeting, held amid protests online and in front of the FCC headquarters in Washington, was evacuated before the vote for about 10 minutes due to an unspecified security threat, and resumed after law enforcement with sniffer dogs checked the room.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters the administration "supports the FCC's efforts. At the same time, the White House certainly has and always will support a free and fair internet."

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, said in a statement he will lead a multi-state lawsuit to challenge the reversal.

Shares of Alphabet, Apple and Microsoft moved lower after the vote.

The FCC said the rules would take effect in a few months after the White House Office of Management and Budget formally approves them.

Pai has argued that the 2015 rules were heavy handed and stifled competition and innovation among service providers.

"The internet wasn't broken in 2015. We weren't living in a digital dystopia," he said.

Consumers are unlikely to see immediate changes but smaller startups worry the lack of restrictions could drive up costs or lead to their content being blocked.

Internet service providers say they will not block or throttle legal content but may engage in paid prioritization. They argue that the largely unregulated internet functioned well in the two decades before the 2015 order.

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