The Data Transfer Project is a new team-up between tech giants to let you move your content, contacts, and more across apps. Founded by Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft, the DTP today revealed its plans for an open source data portability platform any online service can join. While many companies already let you download your information, that’s not very helpful if you can’t easily upload and use it elsewhere — whether you want to evacuate a social network you hate, back up your data somewhere different, or bring your digital identity along when you try a new app. The DTP’s tool isn’t ready for use yet, but the group today laid out a white paper for how it will work.
Creating an industry standard for data portability could force companies to compete on utility instead of being protected by data lock-in that traps users because it’s tough to switch services. The DTP could potentially offer a solution to a major problem with social networks I detailed in April: you can’t find your friends from one app on another. We’ve asked Facebook for details on if and how you’ll be able to transfer your social connections and friends’ contact info which it’s historically hoarded.
From porting playlists in music streaming services to health data from fitness trackers to our reams of photos and videos, the DTP could be a boon for startups. Incumbent tech giants maintain a huge advantage in popularizing new functionality because they instantly interoperate with a user’s existing data rather than making them start from scratch. Even if a social networking startup builds a better location sharing feature, personalized avatar, or payment system, it might be a lot easier to use Facebook’s clone of it because that’s where your profile, friends, and photos live.
If the DTP gains industry-wide momentum and its founding partners cooperate in good faith rather than at some bare minimum level of involvement, it could lower the barrier for people to experiment with new apps. Meanwhile, the tech giants could argue that the government shouldn’t step in to regulate them or break them up because DTP means users are free to choose whichever app best competes for their data and attention.
Like so many other Android users, I rely on Messages for Android — Google’s text messaging application — every day. It’s my main means of communication with the people I care about most.
So I was pretty excited to hear that Messages for Android now has its own web client, accessible from any web browser. It’s called Messages for web, naturally:
In short, Messages for web lets Android users text message seamlessly from any computer with a web browser. It’s super easy to set up, and even syncs in real time between phone and computer.
I’ve been using it for nearly a week at this point, and it’s fundamentally changed how I communicate.
First, setting it up: It’s a snap!
Here’s how you set up Android text messaging on the web:
Step 1: Open Messages on your (Android) phone. Step 2: Tap the three dots in the upper right corner, and select “Messages for web.” Step 3: Navigate to the Messages for website on your favorite web browser. Step 4: Scan the QR code using your phone.
And you’re in.
If you want the computer you’re using to remember your phone, there’s an option to select that from the web browser window.
If you’re not seeing the Messages for web option in Messages just yet, check back in a few days — Google is rolling out the update over time.
I’ve stopped knee-jerk responding to every text message buzz in my pocket.
I’ve begun ignoring the buzzes in my pocket, and it’s been a massive relief.
As someone who spends most of my time at a computer, I feel especially silly holding up a smartphone screen in front of that computer.
Eventually, I click over to the Messages for web tab in my browser and see what I’ve been missing: group texts with friends to get back to, messages from my partner, an alert from Verizon that my autopay went through successfully.
Important stuff, no doubt, but stuff that doesn’t require an immediate, “Stop everything!” response. Instead, I ignore the buzzes, find a natural end point to whatever I’m doing, then catch up on messages I’ve been missing.
It’s a subtle change with massive implications — I’ve been knee-jerk responding to text message pocket vibrations for over 10 years now.
But there’s something about having all my text messages in a browser window, waiting for me, that changed how I look at them: They’re just instant message windows now, nothing more than the AOL Instant Messengers and Facebook Messengers of the world.
It’s obvious, I realize. They’re all just messaging software in the broadest sense. But text messages have maintained the top spot in my personal hierarchy of prioritization. Messages for web is helping me put the space between myself and text messages that I didn’t even realize I needed.
Not having to switch between phone and computer while working is a huge time saver.
Switching between a phone and a keyboard is massively disruptive. Moreover, as stated previously, it makes me feel ridiculous to pick up a smartphone solely for one type of messaging while I’m sitting at a powerful computer.
Having Messages for web makes text message communication a part of my workflow.
I’m free to ignore the buzzes in my pocket specifically because I know the messages they represent are easily tackled in a browser tab. Why bother looking?
Messages for web seamlessly syncs between phone and computer, instantly.
If someone sends you media, you can download it locally to your computer (and vice versa — it’s super easy to send your friends all the dumb GIFs you found before they woke up).
Messages for web works exactly as well as Google’s many other excellent services, like Google Docs, Calendar, Mail, and Keep. It is genuinely impressive how quick and easy it is to use Messages for web.
And yes, you can text message anyone with Messages for web, just like you would with your phone normally. It actually uses your phone to send the messages — there’s no way to use Messages for web without your phone close by.
Of all the hotly anticipated new smartphones still set to be released over the course of 2018, Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the furthest from becoming a reality. The LG G7 ThinQ and HTC U12+ are both in the process of rolling out now, and Motorola has some launches coming soon as well. Then the next big phone reveal will be Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9, which will be followed by the even more eagerly anticipated release of Apple’s 2018 iPhone lineup. There, we’ll likely see three new iPhone X successors launch, including an “iPhone X 2,” a larger “iPhone X Plus” with a 6.5-inch OLED display, and a new mid-range model with the iPhone X’s design but a much lower price point. That third new iPhone model, which will reportedly feature a 6.1-inch LCD screen, will likely be Apple’s most popular new iPhone in 2018 thanks to the new, lower price tag.
Finally, after all that is said and done, Google is expected to release its new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL sometime in October 2018. They won’t be the best-selling Android smartphones of the year — not by a long shot. But Google’s new Pixel phones are always the choice of hardcore Android fans who want a pure Android experience and instant access to big Android software updates the moment they’re released.
2018 is shaping up to be a somewhat controversial year for Google’s Pixel lineup since the larger and more desirable Pixel 3 XL is expected to copy the iPhone X’s notch design, and hardcore Android fans inherently hate anything and everything Apple does. Luckily for Android fanboys, however, Google likely has a solution in store to appease them, and we might have just gotten our first look at that solution in action thanks to a recent leak.
Earlier this week, the world may have gotten its first taste at the designs Google plans to use on its upcoming Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL flagship smartphones. That taste came courtesy of a photo that purportedly showed two screen protectors, one for the upcoming Pixel 3 and a second for the larger Pixel 3 XL phablet. Now, seeing screen protectors obviously isn’t the same as seeing the phones themselves, but if they’re genuine they do show us the design Google plans to use on its new Pixel phones. Here’s that leaked image, in case you missed it the first time around:
As you can see, the screen protectors indicate that Google plans to decrease the size of the bezels on its new Pixel 3 lineup this year. Both new models will still have a “chin” bezel below the displays, and the smaller Pixel 3 will also apparently have a somewhat large bezel above the screen. But the bigger Pixel 3 XL design shown in this leak uses Apple’s iPhone X notch design at the top of the screen in order to maximize display real estate.
Again, there’s no way at the moment to confirm that this design is accurate. That said, it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise. So many Android phones have copied Apple’s notch that Google actually baked notch support right into Android P, the company’s big 2018 update set to be released later this year. Pixel phones are always a showcase of the latest and greatest Android features, so it stands to reason that Google would want to showcase the notch on at least one of its 2018 Pixel phones.
Based on the leak above, a cell phone blog cooked up renders of what Google’s new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL should look like when they launch. There’s a very good chance that those renders will end up being our first look at Google’s new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL designs, though we obviously cannot confirm that for the time being. We showed you the renders on Tuesday, but here’s another look:
The smaller Pixel 3 has a design that is somewhat dated thanks to those big bezels above and below the screen, but the Pixel 3 XL looks just as sleek as any other recent Android flagship phone. It does clone the iPhone X’s notch though, which is something that hardcore Android fans haven’t been happy about with regard to all the other recent phones that copy Apple’s design. Of course, many of those phones also offer a related feature that Apple does not: The ability to hide the notch.
Phones like the LG G7 ThinQ and OnePlus 6 include a setting in the phone’s software to hide the notch by making the background black. Then, only status bar icons and notification icons are displayed on either side of the notch. There’s a very good chance that Google will offer this option as well, and now a Reddit user named “fondantsnail” has created a Pixel 3 XL render that shows us what the phone might look like with the notch hidden:
The render on the left shows us Google’s rumored Pixel 3 XL design with the notch enabled in the phone’s software. Then on the right, we can see what the phone might look like with the notch hidden in the software. Will this be enough to appease Android fans who inherently hate anything that even resembles an Apple product? Only time will tell, but our guess is they’ll happily look past the iPhone X’s notch at the top of the Pixel 3 XL’s screen in order to get their hands on the latest and greatest Google phone.
In the wake of Google’s removal of the ‘view image’ button, contributor Anthony Muller polled top news and entertainment sites to share their Google image traffic data. The results? Overwhelmingly positive — image search is back.
These declines were even more drastic for large enterprise-level brands that had spent considerable effort optimizing their image catalogs, content management system (CMS), captions and eXtensible markup language (XML) sitemaps for the search engines.
This decline was due to searchers who clicked “view image” being sent to a page with only the image asset and not to the site hosting or licensing the image when using Google image search.
Getty bites back
Approximately three years after Google added the “view image” button, Getty images filed an anti-competition complaint with the European Commission (EC) against the search giant. The gist of the complaint was that Google was using Getty images in a way that was diverting users from Getty’s website.
Fast forward to February 14, 2018 (Valentine’s Day), and it appears that Google blinked.
Google had reversed their stance and as of February 15, 2018, removed the “view image” button. A message from Google SearchLiaison tweeted confirmation that these changes (view images) came about due to the settlement with Getty Images.
Image SEO rises again
It has been fewer than 90 days since Google made the change, and I was chomping at the bit to see just how immediate the effects would be. I reached out to a number of different properties across different worldwide verticals and asked them to share their Google image traffic data.
The response to my data requests was very positive. Overall, I compiled the percentage increases from 58 different properties worldwide.
These increases were from Google images pre- and post-February 14, 2018. All sites fell into one of three different verticals, entertainment, photography and news, with a large majority being news-oriented. All sites surveyed have significantly large catalogs of images (over 100,000).
Since the only number reported from all sites was a percentage increase in image traffic from Google, it was the only number I could properly find the mean increase for at this time.
The overall data from the 58 different sites, shows an average of a 37 percent increase in clicks from Google image search.
In the image traffic data below, we can see how a single enterprise-sized entertainment site with millions of images spiked for approximately an additional 600,000 visitors from Google images every month. While this was on the higher end of the mean increase, the 47 percent seen below is pretty indicative of how most saw their traffic increase post-Valentine’s Day, with some variations.
Take note of how the impressions and position remain relatively unchanged, while the click-through rate (CTR) and clicks spike:
Some properties were generous enough to go on the record with the increases they have witnessed.
Dylan Howell from Stocksy.com reports on their Google traffic on over 1 million images after the change:
From recent data, we can see that this change greatly improved the rate of viewers visiting our site from these (image) results pages. The number of clicks from these pages to our site increased by over 50 percent from previous levels.
Serban Enache, CEO of Dreamstime, reports that his company’s traffic from Google images increased by approximately 30 percent to their catalog of 75 million images. He added:
We also saw a 10 percent increase in conversions, so this traffic previously downloaded images from Google Images. Since they purchased a commercial license afterwards, we can safely assume their past downloads were copyright infringements.
Both Stocksy and Dreamstime commented that the changes were “positive” for both site owners and photographers. As a content creator and a firsthand witness to the traffic devastation for some clients, I wholeheartedly agree with them.
Some users of image search were surprisingly upset at the change and within a week, Chrome extensions were popping up in the Chrome web store which promised to return the “view image” functionality for those who want it. I don’t quite understand the need for the button, since right-click functionality still exists to open images in a new tab, but I guess I am just old-school.
Can what was lost be fully regained?
If many sites lost 70 percent of their image search traffic in 2013, why aren’t we seeing similar increases? It is anyone’s guess, but could be, in part, from other engines (Bing, DuckDuckGo) still using the “view image” functionality. From Duck Duck Go:
In addition, I have seen a reluctance from many clients to spend resources on image optimization post-2013. They just didn’t feel that the benefit or traffic would be worth the resource cost. This lack of attention or resources placed into image optimization could have stunted the rebound as well.
One thing is for certain. It is time to reprioritize image SEO in-house or for clients taking a lackadaisical approach to optimizing images in the wake of the 2013 Google change. The upside will be far greater for those who are already poised to benefit from the changes.