Category: Internet Informations

Microsoft Internet Explorer Pushes Beyond Second Screen To Companion Web

“We’re at a tipping point with connected devices,” a recent blog post from Microsoft Microsoft‘s Internet Explorer team reads. “Every day, 3.6 million mobile devices and tablets are activated worldwide. That’s over five times more than the number of babies born each day!” They’ve got a point, but it is a sad irony for Microsoft that so few of those mobile devices run their software.

But Microsoft has sold more than 70 million Xbox 360s and has a very TV-centric followup, the Xbox One, coming in November. As Forbes.com contributor Tristan Louis points out in today’s post on Smarter TVs, ”the upcoming battle for the living room is a chance to redeem itself and turn its fortune around.” The parody video that Louis refers to shows all of the instances of the words “TV,” “television,” “sports” and “Call of Duty” in the launch announcement. Although the announcement raised the ire of hard core gamers, the emphasis on TV (and perhaps the two things TVs are most used for, watching sports and playing Call of Duty) must have been highly intentional.

Games have been Microsoft’s route into the living room, but that strong association is now an impediment to its more generalized assault of the living room. Non-gamers are probably thinking more about the future AppleApple TV than about the Xbox as their upgrade path to interactive TV. In response to this perception, Microsoft has launched a new program called “Companion Web.” The idea is to facilitate real time interactions between different devices. And because Microsoft has no footprint to speak of in the world of mobile, they are now trying to emerge as a unifying force between iOS and Android.

The problem Microsoft is trying to solve (other than the risk of their own irrelevance) is that “the majority of sites on the web are built for only one device at a time.” The user can search for related information to what they are watching on their TV, for instance, but real time it ain’t. And content owners can make second screen experiences, but they have tended to be operating system (and sometimes even device) specific. Microsoft is after a more generalized solution that does not impose an unmanageable burden on developers.

“Regardless of who makes the device or software that powers the device, the Companion Web enables the internet to bridge the gap between these devices,” the IE blog post reads. “For developers, Companion Web represents an opportunity to reuse code that works across multiple scenarios, enabling greater reach and ways to engage an audience. For consumers, Companion Web means you’ll seamlessly move from one device to the next, interacting with your photos, videos, music, movies, television shows, files, and more.”

Companion Web would seem to be a more generalized version of the Xbox SmartGlass, which also allowed you to interact with your TV via Windows devices and select iOS and Android devices, but only on very specific games and content. The promise of the Companion Web is of a much broader range of experiences that the user could have between devices.

So far, Microsoft has released three such “Companion Web experiences” working with outside developers. I became aware of the program through Luke Wroblewski who has created a version of his Polar app that works in this companion manner with Internet Explorer. As you can see in the video below, Polar uses IE’s snap mode to assign a “sidebar” portion of the screen (in this case a Surface tablet acts a s a proxy for a Windows 8/Xbox One enabled TV) to itself while the user uses the balance of the screen to watch Futurama.

Wroblewski demonstrates the ways that you can find polls with Polar about Futurama and watch the results update in real time while you are watching the show. You can imagine something like this being a lot of fun for big live TV events like the Oscars or the Super Bowl, where the amount of real time activity would be high and seeing how other people are reacting becomes part of the entertainment. Similarly, you can make up your own hashtags for polls in Polar so that the reactions you are monitoring are only a select group of people. Either way, mass or niche, the real time linkage with the content on the big screen really extends the idea of the Polar app by making these interactions available to a room full of people—each potentially interacting with their own mobile devices.

And, important to note (since this is IE, after all, that we are talking about) that this all uses standard open web technology. Specifically, Wroblewski tells me, Companion Web uses web sockets to create the real time connections between devices. He says, “you can make a connection between pretty much any two ‘modern’ Web browsers regardless of device.” One of the other really interesting things about the Polar demonstration is that, as I described in a recent post, it uses a multi-device web page that enables all kinds of input (touch, mouse and keyboard) depending on device. And in the Companion Web experience, all all of these inputs can be used to control the connected screen.

What the other “modern” browsers don’t have that Internet Explorer 10 has is this snap mode. If there was one thing that iOS 7 should have copied from Windows (instead of all that flatness stuff) it would have been snap mode. So these Companion Web experiences will work across virtually all devices (because they use standard web tech) but the Xbox One will retain an advantage of being the only way to uses these “companions” on the screen simultaneously with other activities. And Polar, I think, has shown how this could become a really powerful feature.

The other two Companion Web experiments released so far do not make use of this snap mode feature. DailyBurn, see video below, uses a smartphone or tablet to get real time data related to workouts you view on your TV. This app is clearly trying to appeal to users who may need some constructive excuse to get an Xbox One.

Mix Party, introduced in the (purposely?) obnoxious video below, allows people at a party to create real time, collaborative playlists with their phones. As with Polar, the real time aspect of this is part of the entertainment value. I’m not sure if DailyBurn is intended as a solo experience or if multiple people could monitor their own individual performance of a shared video workout or not, but Mix Party and Polar clearly have real time, fact to face interactions in mind.

What is interesting to me about this strategy is that there are some extra capabilities that Microsoft has built into IE 10/Xbox One (and likely will build more) that will give it an advantage as an app enabled web TV platform, but the apps developers write will also work well on all devices. This strategy of “progressive enhancement” is a comfortable one to developers because it keeps their options open. Allowing for these entropic possibilities is a smart way to get developers on board, which, in turn, could be the means to Microsoft’s resurgence through the big screen.

Maxthon Partners with AMD to Offer Web Browser Optimized for Next Generation APU Chips

Maxthon, a cloud-based browser, today released a new version of its Windows browser that uses a revolutionary new microprocessor from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), significantly reducing power consumption while offering superior video performance. AMD’s new Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) leverages new technology to make transactions between the graphics processing unit (GPU) and the central processing unit (CPU) faster and more energy-efficient than ever before.

“New chip architecture like AMD’s APU product is a clear signpost to where we believe the Web technology is heading: more happening in the chip and the browser serving as more of an open standards operating system,” said Jeff Chen, founder and CEO of Maxthon. “We’re proud to collaborate with AMD on such an exciting step forward.”

The GPU handles the processing of rich media including graphics and video, while the CPU manages the heavy lifting of analytical and logic-based functions. Until now, communicating across these two units has depended on a serial data connection that processes millions of functions per second, often resulting in a sluggish and power-consuming Web experience.

The partnership allows Maxthon to optimize the Windows browser for lightning-quick interaction between the APU to speed up video and graphics rendering, particularly using HTML5 standards for which Maxthon is the global leader in support. Among other things, the Maxthon Cloud browser is using OpenCL for lightning quick HTML5 video post processing to offer richer, faster video.

“In the near future what we now know as TV will be mediated through a Web browser optimized for innovative technology like AMD’s APU processors,” said Karl Mattson, vice president of Maxthon International. “Among other things, that means the electronic ‘hearth’ of the TV in the family room will be freed to be available to any device connected to the Web running a browser like Maxthon.”

About Maxthon

Maxthon is an innovative software company that develops superior Web browsers that continue to set new standards for speed, security, simplicity and cloud features. It is available on the Windows, Android, iOS and Mac platforms. With offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, Maxthon reaches a global community of users that tops more than 120,000,000 people each month in more than 150 countries.

Four Techniques Local Businesses Should Use for Search Engine Optimization with WordPress

Hands down, a WordPress website is one of the best investments that can be made in a local company’s online lead generation efforts. Admittedly, it can also be one of the biggest investments. My Local Leads, a Maine based marketing firm, works on design and development as well as continued maintenance of affordable WordPress websites for local businesses across the US. There are undoubtedly some decisions that go into the initial planning and development stages that can greatly impact marketing effectiveness of the site. Then, there are things that require continued and near constant observation and work. These few techniques are important to helping make a WordPress website part of a successful local search marketing campaign.

Choosing the right domain name can be pivotal in helping increase a websites reach, especially in the early stages. It was popular to stuff a domain with keywords, but recent search engine algorithm updates have lessened the value of such a practice. Branding is important for the domain name. It needs to be simple enough for people to remember. If a keyword fits naturally, sure it can and should be added. If it ends up making it too weird, too long, or too hard to remember, it is most likely not worth it.

It is also important to remember to turn on WordPress’s built in SEO tools when putting up a site for a local business. There is a setting under privacy of a WordPress site that will automatically hide the site from search engines, and this certainly is not what anyone attempting to build a site for search engine optimization wants to have set. At the same time, the WordPress website should have the permalinks set to be friendly URLs, which will help with the site ranking.

There are important add-ons that any WordPress website should have including sitemap and SEO tools. The meta titles and descriptions can be easily added with warnings and suggestions through using a tool like Yoast. The sitemap is a factor in overall page ranking and can be done automatically through a plugin whenever new pages or posts are added.

Another factor that business owners will want to keep an eye on with their WordPress site is the actual functionality. The site should load quickly, have no dead links, and have clean code. Ugly and broken code can harm the rankings as well as user experience. Slow sites or sites that go down frequently can also be detrimental to both customer experience and search engine rankings.

The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache(tm) Mesos(tm) as a Top-Level Project

The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of nearly 150 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today that Apache Mesos has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP), signifying that the project’s community and products have been well-governed under the ASF’s meritocratic process and principles.

Apache Mesos is a cluster manager that provides efficient resource isolation and sharing across distributed applications, or frameworks. It can run multiple frameworks, including Apache Hadoop, MPI, Hypertable, Jenkins, Storm, and Spark, as well as other applications and custom frameworks.

“It was our goal all along to see Mesos become a kernel of the infrastructure stack of the future,” said Benjamin Hindman, Vice President of Apache Mesos. “The project’s graduation from the Apache Incubator is recognition that the software is mature and has brought together a diverse community to sustain it in the future.”

Initially created at the University of California at Berkeley’s AMPLab (the research center also responsible for the original development of Apache Spark) to manage resource sharing and isolation in data centers, Mesos acts as a layer of abstraction between applications and pools of servers. Mesos helps avoid the necessity of creating separate clusters to run individual frameworks and instead making it possible to optimize how jobs are executed across shared machines.

Whilst in the Apache Incubator, Mesos had four releases, and established an Open Source community according to The Apache Way of governance. Additional improvements to the project includes its flexibility to support several application framework languages, and scalability that has been production tested to thousands of nodes and simulated to tens of thousands of nodes and hundreds of frameworks.

Apache Mesos has proven to be reliable for use in production, and has already been adopted by several organizations for cluster management.

“Mesos is the cornerstone of our elastic compute infrastructure,” explained Chris Fry, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Twitter. “It’s how we build all our new services and is critical for Twitter’s continued success at scale … one of the primary keys to our data infrastructure efficiency.”

“We’re using Mesos to manage cluster resources for most of our data infrastructure,” said Brenden Matthews, Engineer at Airbnb and Apache Mesos Committer. “We run Chronos, Storm, and Hadoop on top of Mesos in order to process petabytes of data.” (Chronos is an Airbnb-developed Mesos framework as a replacement for cron, and an example of how custom frameworks can be developed on Mesos to leverage its resource sharing).

“Community support for Apache Mesos is encouraging, particularly as more companies assess how they manage their clusters and look for more efficiency,” added Hindman. “Now that we’ve graduated, we look forward to continuing to grow the number of Mesos adopters and fostering an ecosystem around the project.”

Availability and Oversight
As with all Apache products, Apache Mesos software is released under the Apache License v2.0, and is overseen by a self-selected team of active contributors to the project. A Project Management Committee (PMC) guides the Project’s day-to-day operations, including community development and product releases.

Internet Wars: Chrome overtakes Internet Explorer & Samsung beats Apple to mobile top-spot

Website analytics company StatCounter have revealed its latest report covering global trends of internet access and software popularity. Dubbed ‘Internet Wars’ the report contains two major power shifts: in terms of mobile internet access Samsung has overtaken Apple whilst Chrome have has stolen Internet Explorer’s browser crown. See below for a full break-down of the report:

Mobile: Samsung & Chrome lead the way

In terms of mobile vendors the changes have been somewhat expected. 12 months ago Nokia was the number one vendor for connecting to mobile internet but they’ve now dropped to third place as Samsung overtakes Apple by a small margin.

In terms of mobile browser usage the global market shows Android’s default browser out in front with 29% compared to Safari’s 25%; but in the US and the UK the Apple products are clear leaders – taking 55% and 48% of the market share respectively.

This is a direct reflection of mobile OS trends where Android are ahead globally (38%, up from 26% last year) but with the US and the UK showing a pretty clear preference for the iOS. In the US Apple takes 55% and Android 39%; in the UK Apple gets 48% and Android has 30%. The UK also proves to be a bit of a hold-out for Blackberry – holding on to a respectable 15% of the market.

Browsers & Operating Systems: Internet Explorer beaten, but Windows remains dominant

The browser wars have seen Google overtake Microsoft’s Internet Explorer for the first time in June this year, with Firefox and Safari taking third and fourth place respectively. Chrome took 34% of the market, compared to IE’s 32%.

StatCounter’s report also took in the balance of power with operating systems, showing Windows 7 actually increasing its internet usage share to 51% despite the fanfare-launch of Windows 8. And 12 years after its launch, Windows XP is still hanging in there with 21% of the global market, comfortably above Apple’s consistent third-place OSX (over 7% share).

In the UK specifically Windows 7 still keeps its top-spot with a 49% market share, but – unlike in the global market – Mac’s OSX takes second place with 11%, beating out Windows XP’s 10% share.

It was also revealed that despite reports of Facebook’s declining appeal amongst teenagers the site has still managed to increase its market share – at least in terms of referall traffic, the metric that StatCounter uses.

Social media: Facebook still king, though UK has a soft spot for Twitter

Worlwide Facebook has increased its referral influence from 61% in June 2012 to 71% in June 2013. Other social networks still barely register on this scale – with StumbleUpon falling from 9% to 5%, Pinterest taking the number two slot with 8% and Twitter taking up third place with 7%.

In the US Pinterest had a far more dominant position, climbing to a healthy second place in terms of referral traffic with 22% of the market share compared to Facebook’s 52%; whilst in the UK it was Twitter that took the number two spot, with 16% of referral traffic compared to Facebook’s 62%.

However, it should be noted that referral traffic – whilst a useful metric – is by no means the be all and end all of social media influence.

A recent essay by Ethan Zuckerman for the Atlantic pointed out that whilst Facebook may dominate in terms of user figures, the influence it create tends to be fairly insular – with links spread amongst individuals that are already friends. Zuckerman counterpoints this with Reddit – which is far less popular in terms of actual user figures but might be considered more influential as it manages to  spread content amongst strangers, reaching further flung areas of the web.

Yahoo Acquires AdMovate To Increase Mobile Advertising

News about the acquisition of Yahoo is still a lot to buy the company from a small start-up like Summly to large and are known as Tumblr. Today Yahoo has officially announced that it has acquired AdMovate, a private company. AdMovate focus to the world of advertising on mobile devices, they develop a solution that will bring mobile advertising to the target behavior. AdMovate itself also has confirmed this news, but both Yahoo and AdMovate not want to inform the amount of the approved agreement.
Now a team of technicians will AdMovate integrated with Yahoo advertising display team, based in Silicon Valley. Yahoo said that the acquisition is part of their move to invest more in technology advertising platform, so it will be easier for agencies and advertisers purchase. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has even said many times that the company they represent the future of the mobile world so fair they are trying hard to improve their mobile services.

Yahoo Sports Launches New Fantasy App With Mobile Drafting

Yahoo announced that it has launched its new 2013 Fantasy Sports app today, which brings a new design, and new features to the experience.

One of the big new improvements is that it now features mobile drafting, which many will find tremendously helpful. It’s a lot of pressure to be at a computer during draft time.

 

“Managers can now sign up, draft a team and win their league championship from their iOS and Android device thanks to new technology incorporated by Bignoggins Production, Loki Studios and the Yahoo! Sports mobile team,” a spokesperson for Yahoo tells WebProNews. “The app also now features mock drafting, to help fans prepare and get an edge on the competition.”

Yahoo announced its acquisition of Bignoggins just a few weeks ago. They haven’t wasted any time.

“And starting with football, for the first time ever, all of Yahoo! Sports Fantasy games will live under one mobile roof – the Yahoo! Sports Fantasy app – including basketball, hockey and baseball,” the spokesperson adds.

According to Yahoo, the new app is faster than previous experiences. It also has free notifications.

The app is available for iOS and Android.

Instagram Surpasses Pede Will Facebook As the World’s Largest

Instagram skyrocketed in popularity as more and share photos via a mobile application. As a start-up which is very expensive purchased by Facebook apparently did not make Instagram lose ambition. Instagram sure will be bigger than Facebook.

Facebook now has 1.1 billion users worldwide making it the largest social networking Worldwide. But they have a problem with the new user to hook a young age began to look at other services. In terms of feeling confident that Instagram can grow large if it is capable of growth right now.

“By definition, if Instagram continues to grow in this position then yes, it would be even greater,” said Kevin Systrom in an interview with Fast Company. “Instagram will be the largest in the world.”

In contrast to the explicitly Kevin so confident, Instagram founder fellow replied diplomatically. “I do not know, but it’s a good question. Basically there is no limit to the number so maybe one day we will match?” Mike Krieger said.

Instagram is currently still far less than Facebook, but the number of users has exceeded Twitter. While the video recording feature that was recently launched is also more popular than Twitter’s Vine has attended first.

Microsoft readies IE 11 for Windows 7, too

Browser aficionados and haters alike will be overjoyed that Microsoft is keeping its promise to keep the new Internet Explorer up-to-date on Windows 7 as well as Windows 8.

The Internet Explorer 11 Developer’s Preview for Windows 7, which debuted on Thursday, introduces the most of the new features and functionality of the Windows 8.1 default browser.

Roger Capriotti, Microsoft’s marketing director for Internet Explorer, said that, like IE 10 forWindows 7, IE 11 won’t have the modern interface, but it will have performance benefits.

“We’re faster than the folks at Chrome or the folks at Firefox,” he said. “We’ve got better CPU [processing times], better usage, and better load time overall.”

In addition to usual pitch of improved overall performance, the specifics of the Windows 7 IE 11 Developer’s Preview include updated standards support and overhauled developer tools.

Repeating a talking point that’s been at the forefront of Microsoft’s campaign to revitalize its previously-moribund browser, Capriotti said that the team building IE wants developers “to spend more time developing and less time on standards.”

Most of the backend changes to IE 11 for Windows 7 are in the Windows 8.1 version. These include several firsts that result in faster site loading, according to Microsoft.

The browser is the first to implement the W3C Resource Priorities standard, so that developers can tell the browser which parts of a page to load first; it’s the first to render text on the graphics processing unit (GPU), to more directly accelerate page loading; and it’s the first to natively decodes JPG images in real-time on the GPU; which reduces overall battery drain as well as speeds up site loading.

IE 11 also includes support for WebGL, and it supports the security- and speed-focused SPDY protocol, which originated at Google. These are notable because both previously had been sniffed at by Microsoft. The ECMAScript 6 standard scripting language is supported, too, as is more “just-in-time” compiler in the browser’s JavaScript engine, Chakra.

And to get developers to stand up and take notice, the Microsoft team has overhauled its “F12” developer tools. There’s a new memory management tool that shows in cleanly-designed, real-time charts memory spikes and other problems.

This interface responsiveness report is good news for developers using IE11, but most people will notice changes under the hood: WebGL and SPDY support, for better graphics and faster page-loading, respectively.

(Credit: Microsoft-News.com)

A new emulation tool allows the developer to mimic how their site will look on screen sizes for different devices. It also has a geolocation tool for region-specific debugging.

The new User Interface Responsiveness tool isn’t not working in the current developer’s preview, but Capriotti says it will ship in the final version. It uses more graphics than before to show developers how a site is behaving, with color-coded problems areas and detailed, real-time charts.

To sweeten the deal, the company has revamped its debugging modern.IE Web site, offered a 25 percent discount on Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac, and made virtual machines available for Internet Explorer 11.

Basically, Internet Explorer 11 is a highly competitive browser. Or at least, that’s Microsoft’s plan. But the competition updates on a six-week release cycle, and Capriotti wouldn’t say when IE 11 would be ready for the public. If it follows the release pattern of IE 10 for Windows 7, it will be around four months after IE 11 arrives with Windows 8.1.

Besides swimming upstream against years of negative marks for IE, Microsoft struggles with rapid standards implementation. Part of that is market dynamics. According to NetApplications’ market share statistics, IE still has more people using it than Chrome and Firefox combined, and making changes on a six-week release cycle as Google and Mozilla do would likely anger customers.

However, that means that those browsers, which are developed in a far more open manner than IE, are able to implement new technologies and standards much more rapidly than IE. Capriotti wouldn’t confirm any IE development on the latest in browser tech such as ASM.js, which Firefox has and Chrome is looking at adopting; or WebRTC, an HTML5-based real-time communications protocol that eliminates the need for plug-ins like Skype.

“There’s this tension of what rapid release should be,” he said. “Is it 6 weeks? Six months? We don’t think it should be six years,” he joked.

The truth is that all of Microsoft’s Windows divisions are moving towards updating more rapidly than in the past, as Steve Ballmer said at the recent Build conference, and that includes Internet Explorer.

But while Microsoft is concerned with keeping Internet Explorer up with the Joneses, the Joneses — mostly Chrome and even Firefox a bit as it moves into the mobile OS world — are looking beyond the traditional markets.

Facebook Hashtags Not Catching on With Consumers

While using hashtags in Facebook posts might be a fun tactic for brands trying to engage consumers, it doesn’t appear to be paying off, a new study finds.
Research from social media analytics firm Simply Measured revealed that while 20 percent of Facebook posts among top brands now include hashtags (which give users a way to group messages of similar content), there is no evidence that hashtags are influencing engagement.

The study shows that posts with hashtags —a new feature added with in the last several months — perform as well as those without, suggesting that people are not yet discovering brand posts by their tags.

Overall, the study shows nearly all of the companies in the Interbrand 100 — which ranks businesses based on financial status — now have a Facebook fan page, with 60 percent posting something at least once a day.

[No, Really, Facebook Makes Employees More Productive]

The research revealed that visual content is by far the primary driver for engagement on Facebook. Photos posted by top brands average more than 9,400 engagements, which includes likes, comments and shares, per post, while video posts average more than 2,500.

When it comes to text posts, brands must walk a fine line. Analysis of more than 500 status updates from the top brands shows that the longer a status update is, the less engagement it typically receives. However, if a status update is too short — less than 50 characters — it may not be long enough to capture viewers’ attention or provide the necessary context to drive the number of likes, shares and comments a brand would like.

“For most brands, Facebook is no longer just a network; it has become the hub of their social marketing efforts and one of the most effective ways to engage with fans,” said Adam Schoenfeld, CEO of Simply Measured. “This latest research once again proves that knowing your audience, understanding your content assets and measuring your efforts are extremely important to develop the social strategies that will work best for you.”

Businesses that limit Facebook fans from writing on their page might want to reconsider their strategy. The research shows that nearly 30 percent of top brands do not allow users to post on their wall. For those brands, user engagement on their page is limited to likes, comments and shares, resulting in 15 percent less engagement than brands that do allow user posts.

When it comes to drawing the most Facebook fans, no one does it better than Facebook itself. The social media giant claims the top spot with 93 million fans, followed by Coca-Cola and MTV.