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Noman Ali: Gadgets, Websites, Google, Social Media and SEO


Category Archives: Apple

There’s no doubt that mobile and, by extension, local search is hot. Technology pundits have been declaring every year since 2005 “The Year of Mobile” – that magical moment when everyone suddenly starts using their mobile device for more than just playing games, texting, calling friends, checking email, downloading/using apps and occasionally browsing the web and… I don’t know… browses the web more?

If I sound a bit cynical on the topic of mobile it’s not out of a disbelief in the power of mobile devices or the acceleration of their influence on our technological connectedness. It’s because I think we’re, to a large extent, already there. The smartphone has won our hearts and minds, and this year, it will finally be more popular than the feature phone:

Nearly half of us already have iPhones, Blackberries, Androids or similar in our pockets when we’re on the proverbial “go.” But search – the process, the intent, the results –  just isn’t that different on mobile devices vs. laptops and desktops.

Yes, mobile searchers are more likely  to perform local searches than other varieties, but I actually believe this trend may be overblown. A substantive portion of searches performed from a laptop/desktop have local intent as well. As the mobile experience gets ever closer to mimicing that of the laptop/desktop, I suspect we’ll be searching on our mobiles in a remarkably similar fashion to how we search everywhere else. In fact, the top mobile searches of 2010 are similar (and surprisingly non-local) to the top general searches of the year.

Increased speed, functionality, screen size, resolution, readability, battery life, multimedia capacity, etc. don’t sound like features that make the mobile experience unique; they strike me as moving toward feature parity.


Research from Doubleclick, comparing search on mobile devices w/ full browsers vs. computers strongly suggests that we’re moving towards search parity, too. Queries are similar, clicks are similar, click-through-rate is similar, even conversion rate is getting close (though mobile is still a much more research-based experience, with a tough-to-measure influence of offline conversions).

This doesn’t mean you can or should ignore mobile/local as a powerful organic marketing channel, but it does mean that you don’t need to be building separate mobile sites or separate mobile experiences. Unless your site/content is seriously challenging for mobile users, even those with fast, impressive devices, you should worry more about other marketing avenues.

The big trends I see in mobile search are:

  • A lot more queries – mobile search is growing faster than traditional search and that bodes well for search marketers.
  • A single set of SERPs – I searched for a good 20 minutes on my laptop and Android phone without finding a query where the web results are in a different order (both are location-aware to “Seattle, WA”)
  • A chance to make your mobile-focus known – Yelp does a great job with their overlay on mobile devices encouraging searchers to download their app (though some have complained it gets annoying having to say “no” every time if you don’t want it).
  • Little need for a separate mobile site – Mobile copies of websites seem to me to be more likely to cause duplicate content issues, technical challenges, waste engineering resources and draw away attention from real mobile opportunities than to earn slightly higher rankings in mobile searches. Until/unless things change dramatically, I can’t, in good conscience, recommend this practice (unless your regular site is absolutely unusable on a mobile device).
  • Definite need for a separate mobile ad strategy – Unlike SEO, the paid search results can and do differ dramatically on mobile devices. CPC is generally lower, as are conversion rates, though the latter may be on an upward trend (especially if I’m right about device convergence)
  • Apps are still beloved – I don’t know if the long term future of mobile will continue to focus on apps, but for now, it’s a huge part of what differentiates the device. It’s certainly a great way to “contain” users in your brand and provide a more tailored experience, and for those who can make it work effectively, the effect can be great.
  • Geography matters – mobile and traditional search are both getting more and more biased by geography. My opinion is that Google currently sucks at this (I have yet to find a search I like better with location-biasing than without, maps/places not withstanding), but they certainly won’t be giving up. As a result, if you can tailor your content and your marketing to effectively serve and be seen as local, you can seriously benefit.





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Apple has revealed iTunes 10, the newest version of iTunes complete with a new logo, new features and its very own social network for music called “Ping” that he described as Facebook meets Twitter for music.

Ping allows users to follow others, just like Twitter. You can follow artists or your friends to find out what they’re listening or what they’re creating. It has custom song and album charts, a news feed, 17,000+ concert listings, and is available to 160 million iTunes users. Ping will be available not only for iTunes on the desktop, but for iPhone and iPod touch as well.

Jobs also touted the growth of iTunes and the iTunes store. He announced that more than 11.7 billion songs have been downloaded through iTunes. 450 million TV episodes and 100 million movies have been sold through Apple’s music software, while 35 million books have been downloaded through the iBooks store.

iTunes 10 is available starting today.

Music Social Network and iTunes

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Navigating maps on computers and mobile devices can still be a clunky experience, especially when you try to search for places on a map. Typically, on Google Maps or Bing Maps, you get a bunch of virtual pushpins for each place which you can click on for more information.

UpNext, a 3D mapping startup based in New York City, brings that information forward in amore fluid way in the latest release of its iPad app. As you push the 3D map around with your fingers, labels for specific searches or your friends’ recent Foursquare checkins pop open as they come into view. UpNext calls this the Fluid Labeling System, and you can see it in action in the video above.

The app, which is also available on the iPhone, now covers eight cities: New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Portland, San Francisco, and Austin. The apps are free, and they’ve been downloaded 170,000 times—not terribly much, but it is a good example of where map apps could be going. It renders each city in full 3D and lets you dive into each building to find the businesses inside.

As far as the Fluid Labeling goes, anything that eliminates an unnecessary tap is good in my book, but this is really just an improvement on the existing map UI that is now commonplace. Is there a better way to display information about places on a map than through pushpins?

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SkyFire. Heard of it? It’s the smartphone browser that was chewing through Flash video and other rich media long before any of the built-in browsers were supporting such things — and on a number of platforms, it’s still the only option.

We’ve known that SkyFire Labs was crackin’ away at an iPhone port for some
time now — the company confirmed it after Opera got a surprise App Store thumbs up. But when would it be done? More importantly, when would it be submitted for that oh-so-important stamp of approval?

Soon, say our sources.

It’s by no means official just yet, but a pair of much-trusted little birdies have just informed me that SkyFire has just entered the final testing phase of what they intend to be the first public iPhone build, with plans to submit to Apple early next week.

SkyFire, of course, wouldn’t confirm or deny these details on the record — there’s still room for last minute bugs to jam a wrench in the gears over the weekend. But until we hear otherwise, expect SkyFire to announce their App Store submission shortly after the weekend.

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I’d wager that you’d be hard-pressed to find an iPhone user that doesn’t use Gmail on the device. And yet, it’s an awkward relationship. Why? Because Gmail run through the iPhone’s native mail client is a crippled experience. Set aside for a second that you cannot star anything (well, aside from moving an email to the “Starred” folder, which is ridiculous), more importantly, there is no push support. This means you cannot get your email in realtime. Instead, you have to ping Gmail’s servers (either in set intervals or manually). Both Yahoo Mail and MobileMe mail have full push support. It’s ridiculous. Google finally made a move to fix that today. Well, sort of.

With the latest version of their Google Mobile App, you can set up your iPhone to receive Push Notifications each time you get a new Gmail message or when you have a Google Calendar alert. No, Push Notifications on the iPhone aren’t technically the same as full push support for mail, but it will do. Essentially, you’ll now be getting a notification when a new message comes in and this will alert you to open your Mail app and retrieve it. It’s two more steps than regular push would require, but whatever.

What’s interesting is that Google is using Apple’s Push Notifications servers to enable this service. All of these Push Notifications are served up by Apple Push Notification Service (APNS). So yes, Google is using Apple to overcome their own shortcoming (which may or may not be Apple’s fault, who knows what is going on between the two at this point).

Perhaps even stranger is that you can actually set up Gmail to do proper push — but youhave to use Microsoft Exchange to make that happen. Or you’ve been able to use a number of third-party apps like Boxcar for some time now that allow you to get Gmail push notifications — this new Google app simply cuts out this middle man, but works the same way.

There’s something else interesting about this Google Push Notification support as well. When it pops up the notification letting you know that there’s a new message, there’s a “View” button which will open Gmail in the iPhone’s web browser. So not only is Google bypassing Mail’s lack of Gmail push support, they’re feeding you back to their site. While they don’t do it yet on the iPhone experience, they could presumably show you ads here — something they can’t do on the Mail app on the iPhone. I’m fine with that as the iPhone-tailored version of Gmail in Safari is great.

Something else interesting in all of this is that Apple and Google have still presumably been working together to improve the Gmail/iPhone experience. With iOS 4, we finally got the ability to archive (instead of delete) in the Mail app. And you can now sync notes with your Gmail account. Why there still is no real push support is anyone’s guess. I’m sure each side will blame the other one.

Also interesting to think about: will Google start using this same Push Notification feature to make Google Voice easier to use on the iPhone? We’re all still waiting for the App Store approval of that app.

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Apple’s just opened up a new section of the App Store. Called “Try Before You Buy,” it lets users test drive a limited selection of apps before purchasing them.

Unfortunately, this trial period doesn’t apply to all the paid apps in the store — not yet, at least. For now, the section only contains the freemium, “lite” or ad-supported versions of apps whose full versions are in the pay-to-play section of the store. If the app doesn’t have a free version already in the App Store, it won’t appear in Try Before You

You’ll still have to download and pay for the full versions of these apps if you want to test or try the real thing; most of the free or lite apps are pared-down versions with less extensive feature sets.

You can find this new section under the “Free on the App Store” heading. The section currently holds 98 apps, including the “lite” renditions games such as Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown, Metal Gear Solid Touch and Labyrinth 2 and free adaptations of apps such as Moodagent and AccuTerra.


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iPhone4 evoke is ongoing – Daily Mail reported some days before; on the other hand Apple hasn’t announced any plans to evoke such phone; UK publications source announced that it was just a tweet from a fake Twitter account from Steve Jobs.

As @ceoSteveJobs is a parody twitter account – even if you don’t read the bio, it should have been apparent from the tweets, which comprise lines like

“Be careful not to leave your #iPhone4 at the Genius Bar on the way out of the store. Gizmodo might pick it up,”

Well, its really rigid to imaging that Apple didn’t knew about the signal issue as Daily Mail heaved the original story with a state that this recall was coming; and all the issues that users having with the signal loss when the new iPhone4 is in the way.  The concerned persons and engineers at the company doubtless declared that do not expect a recall for that reason.



Don’t be amazed this not the first time something happened that Daily Mail published story only on the basis on a tweet from a fake account;

That’s why twitter has been implemented a system for verifying the accounts; of the vital people and publications


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