Unriddled: Free Movies (!) From YouTube, Facebook Makes the Unsend Feature Official, and More Tech News You Need

Unriddled: Free Movies (!) From YouTube, Facebook Makes the Unsend Feature Official, and More Tech News You Need

“Unriddled” is HubSpot’s weekly digest of the tech headlines you need to know. We give you the top tech stories in a quick, scannable way and break it all down. It’s tech news: explained.

Unriddled: The Tech News You Need

1. YouTube Subtly Adds Free(ish) Movies to Its Collection

AdAge reported late last week that YouTube added free films to its Movies collection in October, allowing users to watch full-length features with commercial breaks. The ad-supported model creates an alternative to other feature-film-for-pay options online, like iTunes or subscription-based streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The latter two services haven’t yet introduced the option to view movies for free with commercials. Read full story >>

2. Messenger Makes Its Unsend Feature Facebook Official

Last week, we covered a story that Messenger would imminently roll out an unsend feature to all users — a feature that was previously (and controversially) only available to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Now, according to TechCrunch, the feature has officially become available to users in Poland, Bolivia, Colombia and Lithuania, with hopes of global rollout “as soon as possible.” Read full story >>

3. Instagram Launches Its “Time Well Spent” Tools

Over the summer, Instagram and its parent company Facebook both announced they would integrate new tools to show users how much time they spent on each app.

There was no clear timeline for this rollout when the announcement was made, but last week, Instagram officially launched its “Your Activity” dashboard — which not only gives users a visual time management display, but also helps them set daily limits for using the app and mute notifications. TechCrunch has more on how to find and use the new feature. Read full story >>

4. How Do People Really Feel About Amazon’s Big Announcement? Here’s What We Found Out.

News of Amazon’s geographical selections for its second headquarters has received mixed responses. We asked hundreds of people to weigh in on the news — here’s what we learned. Read full story >>

5. Instagram Cracks Down on Fake Followers

Instagram has started removing followers from user accounts that have gained a following through automated apps that leave comments, follow, and then later unfollow other accounts on their behalf. Although these apps were made to help users build an audience, Instagram considers this behavior (and many of the new followers gained) to be “inauthentic.”

With these changes, Instagram accounts that have used these apps to build a following might see that following shrink — an occurrence of which Instagram has warned users with an in-app message. Read full story >>

6. LinkedIn Might Be Adding New Social Tools

According to a report from Social Media Today, LinkedIn might be testing social tools such as emotion-driven “reactions” to posts — similar to Facebook’s Like, Love, Laugh, Wow, Sad and Angry post reactions. The possible new feature, which the company has yet to confirm, was first discovered by computer scientist Jane Manchun Wong, who tweeted that LinkedIn’s versions of reactions appear to include “Like,” “Clap,” “Insightful,” “Hmm,” and “Support.”

If LinkedIn does roll out these reactions, it could be the latest in a series of moves by other social networks to emulate and potentially provide alternatives to Facebook’s business and social tools (see below). Read full story >>

7. Why the New Google My Business App Makes for a Pivotal Marketing Moment

Google has built a new place for businesses to build a profile and connect with customers. Find out why it represents a pivotal moment in marketing. Read full story >>

8. Self-Driving Cars Will Hit the Road in a Few Weeks. Are We Ready?

In a matter of weeks, self-driving car company Waymo is rumored to pilot a commercial, driverless car-hailing service. But are people ready for autonomous vehicles to hit the road? Read full story >>

9. Google Used Search Data to Create This Report to Help You Navigate the Holidays

Data nerds and holiday enthusiasts alike, rejoice: Google has compiled historical search data to help users navigate Thanksgiving this year. Here are the report’s highlights. Read full story >>

10. Is Gamification the Key to Better Video Engagement? [New Data]

App and video developers all over are creating a new type of video: the kind that invites the user to participate and interact with it, a la a digital game show. But is that truly the key to better video engagement? Read full story >> 

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Google Used Search Data to Create This Report to Help You Navigate the Holidays

Google Used Search Data to Create This Report to Help You Navigate the Holidays

Ah, the holidays. It’s a holly, jolly time of year that’s full of egg nog, seasonal foods, and — in a word — chaos.

Here in the U.S., the November holiday of Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season, with millions of people hitting the road and airports to visit relatives and partake in turkey feasts, parades, Black Friday shopping deals, and similar merriment.

To help us navigate it all, Google has released a study using (none other than) its very own search data.

Leveraging Google Maps data from the time surrounding last year’s Thanksgiving holiday, Google compiled a report designed to help guide users on holiday-specific ins and outs — the most popular travel destinations, the best times to visit them, and the most optimal (or sub-optimal) times to be on the road this year.

Below you’ll find our favorite tidbits from the seasonal study. 

Holiday Search Trends

Gaming Galore

First, let’s have a look at the U.S. national search trends in the days leading up to and following Thanksgiving. 

The data shows a pattern of shopping for video games during this time period, suggesting many people take advantage of seasonal sales leading up to December holidays — with particular enthusiasm for gaming.

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 9.56.15 AM

What specific category of video games people might be shopping for is another story. However, it’s worth noting that virtual reality (VR) headset manufacturer Oculus is launching a major, star-studded ad campaign in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. Perhaps the trend toward video game shopping signals a major step in the direction of the company’s lofty goals to make VR a mainstream technology.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4eTJIbJYK4]

Localized Search Trends

It wouldn’t really be a true-blue Google study if it didn’t drill down into micro search trends, too. That’s why the report also features an interactive tool that allows viewers to see searches by state. 

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 10.04.48 AM

Google also rendered a visual representation of the most popular Maps searches according to each state during the Thanksgiving holiday period. Here in Massachusetts, the trend points toward “cultural center,” whereas in California, the most popular search seems to be for “city courthouse.”

stateMap

The Hottest (Holiday) Spots

Solving for the user first, if you’re Google, also means letting users know how to avoid crowds and traffic.

To address that first item, Google looked at Maps search data to determine the most popular business categories during the Thanksgiving holiday season, and when those establishments are the busiest.

Food and drink reign supreme here, with bakeries and grocery stores topping the charts on the afternoon and evening before Thanksgiving.

visitTimes

Then, there’s road traffic, where Google again provides a general chart breaking down when traffic congestion peaks during the Thanksgiving holiday in select metropolitan areas. The company’s findings also incorporate a localized, drop-down menu to help users determine the best times to hit the road.

Screen Shot 2018-11-19 at 10.24.23 AM

So, why do these search trends matter to the rest of us — like marketers or small-to-midsize businesses?

Well, as is the golden rule with creating quality work, having this information can help marketers plan and develop content that pertains to these seasonal trends, and adapting them in a way that makes them relevant to your key audiences.

Go forth and get festive with your strategy. And from our little, data-nerd family to yours, we hope all those celebrating Thanksgiving have a wonderful holiday.


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Self-Driving Cars Will Hit the Road in a Few Weeks. Are We Ready?

Self-Driving Cars Will Hit the Road in a Few Weeks. Are We Ready?

A recent Bloomberg report says that self-driving car maker Waymo is planning to launch a driverless car-hailing service imminently.

In as little as a few weeks, the story says, Waymo — which is owned by Google parent company Alphabet Inc. — will debut a commercial, self-driving car service that some have likened to ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

The launch, if the rumors prove to be true, is said to be small, consisting of anywhere between “dozens or hundreds of authorized riders in the suburbs around Phoenix, covering about 100 square miles,” according to the Bloomberg story.

But it raises a question. Are we ready for self-driving cars to hit the road?

To find out, we asked 3,325 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada about their experiences with and expectations of autonomous vehicles. Here’s what they had to say.

Most People Have Not Ridden in a Self-Driving Car

Despite much of the excitement around them, autonomous vehicles remain a highly emerging technology.

Have you ever ridden in a self-driving car_ (2)

Within our survey, over 88% of respondents indicated that they had not yet experienced riding in a self-driving car. 

People Want to Try the Self-Driving Car Experience

However, despite most people not having ever ridden in a driverless car, many of them are curious to try. 

Would you ever ride in a self-driving car_ (2)

Nearly half of our respondents indicated that while they haven’t ever been in an autonomous vehicle, they’d like to try riding in one — suggesting that, once these cars do hit the road, the interest in experiencing them could help them go mainstream.

Self-Driving Cars Will Be a Dominant Form of Transportation, but Not for a While

We found that over three-quarters of respondents indicated that they believe autonomous vehicles will make up the majority of cars on roads — some day. 

Do you think self-driving vehicles will eventually make up the majority of the cars on most roads_ (1)

However, most believe that it might be a while before that happens, with the highest number of respondents saying that they believe it will be a decade or two until self-driving cars take over.

Safety Concerns Abound

Despite the enthusiasm among respondents to experience riding in a self-driving car, few of them (about 17%) would describe autonomous vehicles as “very safe.”

Do you think self-driving cars are safe_ (1)

At the same time, most people agree that while there are still some safety issues to be worked out with self-driving technology, these vehicles are generally safe enough to be on roads.

Safety has been a significant part of Waymo’s message throughout its autonomous-vehicle-building journey. According to the Bloomberg story, for instance, the company said in a statement that “safety [is] at the core of everything we do.”

Approaching with caution can delay launches and slow the process of such a new technology going mainstream. Waymo’s own CEO, for instance, has remarked himself that he believes it will be “decades” before self-driving cars comprise the majority of vehicles on the road.

However, Waymo’s “safety-first” mindset gives the company what some believe a positive, competitive advantage — especially when compared to some other autonomous vehicle makers.

But until this fleet of self-driving cars hits the road, and you’re curious to know what riding in one is like in the meantime — check out the story of our experience here.

Featured image credit: Waymo


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Unriddled: Amazon Officially Selects HQ2, an Unsend Feature Coming to Messenger, and More Tech News You Need

Unriddled: Amazon Officially Selects HQ2, an Unsend Feature Coming to Messenger, and More Tech News You Need

“Unriddled” is HubSpot’s weekly digest of the tech headlines you need to know. We give you the top tech stories in a quick, scannable way and break it all down. It’s tech news: explained.

Unriddled: The Tech News You Need

1. Amazon Officially Announces HQ2 Locations

Confirming rumors that began swirling last week, Amazon officially announced yesterday that its second headquarters — better known as HQ2 — will be split between two locations: Crystal City, VA (considered by some to be a neighborhood of Washington, D.C.) and Long Island City in the Queens neighborhood of New York.

The announcement comes as no surprise to those who were saying for months that Amazon was likely to select the Washington, D.C. area as an HQ2 location — such as NYU Stern professor Scott Galloway, who earlier this year pointed out the proximity of Crystal City to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s home in the area, as well as his preexisting ownership of the Washington Post

U.S. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia also commented on the Crystal City selection.

“As a former Governor, now Senator, but also as a former technology executive, I’m really excited about the potential Amazon offers not only to Northern Virginia,” Warner said in a statement, “but the whole capital region and the entire Commonwealth.”

As for the Long Island City location, Amazon notes that its selection is related to the area’s “diverse community with a unique blend of cultural institutions, arts organizations, new and converted housing, restaurants, bars, breweries, waterfront parks, hotels, academic institutions, and small and large tech sector and industrial businesses.” Read full story >>

2. An Unsend Feature Is Coming to Messenger

Facebook has confirmed, via an iOS app store description, that users will soon be able to “remove a message from a chat thread after it’s been sent.”

IMG_4181

“If you accidentally send the wrong photo, incorrect information, or message the wrong thread,” the description reads, “you can easily correct it by removing the message within 10 minutes of sending it.”

This teaser of the new feature — which is said to be “coming soon” — arrives after months of speculation, and follows Facebook’s admittance that CEO Mark Zuckerberg had the option to delete messages after sending them. Read full story >>

3. Twitter Follower Counts Drop (Again)

After alerting users that their follower counts might drop in July, Twitter has once again said that, thanks to a bug, these previously “locked” followers reappeared and have once again been removed.

According to Reuters, the bug caused these accounts to be “briefly added back [to] follower accounts” for a “few accounts.”

Twitter itself lost about 7.8 million followers in the initial July purge, got 2.36 million of them back by October, and lost another 2.4 million on Friday. Read full story >>

4. Google’s AI Is Getting to Work

Distinguished Speakers

Earlier this week, it was announced that Google would open source its artificial intelligence that plays a vital role in distinguishing one human voice from another.

The formal term for this distinction, “speaker diarization,” describes the process of being able to tell different voices apart in audio where many people might be speaking at once. It’s “an important part of speech recognition systems,” the company says, playing a vital role in “solving the problem of ‘who spoke when’.”

image2-1

Image source: Google

According to VentureBeat, the newly open-sourced AI can tell voices apart in this situations with up to 92% accuracy. Read full story >>

Smart Pictures

Also in the world of Google AI, The New York Times is using the company’s technology to help make its archive of photos (which date back to the 1870s) “smarter” — that is, to help recognize and translate text that describe the photos.

In other words, writes Stephen Shankland of CNET, the NYT is using Google AI to “turn a historic archive of more than 5 million photos into digital data that’ll appear in the newspaper’s features about history.” Also a future possibility, Shankland writes, is exploring AI technology for object recognition in the photos. Read full story >>

Help Me Finish That Thought

Think of it as a visual-content autofill. Google announced this week that its AI technology will also be applied to Android devices to suggest GIF images, emoji, and stickers that it believes fit into your conversation.

glowg_expression

Image source: Google

Starting yesterday, Google said, phones using the Android operating system and the company’s Gboard will use machine learning to know which of these visuals that best fit the specific context of a conversation.

“With thousands of emoji and stickers, and an endless number of GIFs, it can sometimes take awhile to find the perfect way to say ‘I love you,’ ‘hooray,’ or anything else you’re trying to communicate,” writes Gboard Product Lead Angana Ghosh. “This makes it faster and easier to share your #feelings and your glowing personality with whoever you’re chatting with.” Read full story >>

5. Apples to Amazon

Yes — there’s more Amazon news. Last week, it was revealed that Amazon reached an agreement with Apple to carry more of the latter’s products on its website, including the latest models of iPads, iPhones, and the Apple Watch. The product selection will not, however, include Apple’s HomePod smart speaker, perhaps due to its potential competition with Amazon’s own Echo smart speaker products.

But, there’s a catch. This new product expansion means that independent vendors selling refurbished Apple products on Amazon’s marketplace will now face high restrictions. Their listings, explains CNET‘s Ben Fox Rubin, will be removed after January 4 of next year, and they’ll “have to apply with Apple to become authorized resellers on Amazon.” Read full story >>

6. Marketers, Take Note: Samsung Is Going All-In on Voice and Now Is the Time to Prepare

At last week’s Samsung Developer Conference, the name of the game was connectivity — and voice assistant Bixby is what’s tying it all together. Here’s what marketers should know about it. Read full story >>

7. Meet the People Building the TV Controlled by Your Brain

Imagine a TV that’s controlled only by the brain. Meet the people developing that technology today — and discover the future they envision for it. Read full story >>

8. The Voice Search Barometer: Where Do Users Stand? [New Data]

Studies say that more and more online transactions are taking place via voice. But what do these transactions look like — and how many users are really adapting voice? Read full story >>

9. The What, Where, and How of Video Consumption [New Data]

With new online video products popping up with increased frequency, we wanted to know how people really prefer to watch. Read full story >>

Featured image source: Amazon


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The Voice Search Barometer: Where Do Users Stand? [New Data]

The Voice Search Barometer: Where Do Users Stand? [New Data]

At this week’s annual Samsung Developer Conference, there was one technology that arguably stole the spotlight: Voice.

Samsung is making a somewhat apparent push to power more devices — from smartphones to smart speakers to home appliances — with its own voice assistant, Bixby.

It got us thinking: Where do users stand on voice assistants, anyway? How widespread is this technology’s use? And as Samsung keeps its audience waiting for its own smart speaker, the Galaxy Home, how enthusiastic are consumers about these digital assistive devices?

We ran some surveys to answer these questions, and with the help of new data from Zazzle, drew some conclusions on the current sentiment toward voice.

How Many People Plan to Buy a Smart Speaker?

We asked 831 people across the U.S., UK, and Canada: Do you plan to buy a smart speaker?

Do you plan to buy a smart speaker_

Most respondents — about 43% — indicated that they do not plan to buy a smart speaker.

It’s interesting to note, however, that while a smart percentage, the second-highest number of respondents indicated that they plan to buy one within the next six months.

That could align with more of the top contenders in the voice assistant market continuing to release newer models of their smart speakers, with improved functionalities and additional features (such as video).

The Value of Voice Assistants and Smart Speakers Remains Ambiguous

For many consumers, the purpose and tangible use cases of  voice assistants (and the smart speakers they power) remain unclear. When we asked 818 users across the U.S., UK, and Canada, “If you do not own a smart speaker, why not?” we found that most people simply don’t see the benefits of having one.

If you do not own a smart speaker, why not_

These findings align with two other sets of data.

The first is data from Zazzle, where out of “thousands of social media users” in the UK, 35% said that they don’t believe they would ever actually use such voice assistant devices as smart speakers.

The-State-of-Voice-Search-2018-Zazzle-MediaSource: Zazzle

The second is an additional survey we ran among 481 people across the U.S. and Canada, where 21% of respondents said that they don’t completely understand what voice assistants do.

Do you plan to buy a smart speaker_ (1)

The Outlook

The findings above point to some possible key indications about the outlook for voice assistants and the devices they power.

First, it seems that many users are unclear about the value of voice assistants, or what they do — a finding that’s suggested by the number of survey respondents who, if they didn’t say that their understanding of voice is muddled, said that they want to learn more about the technology before investing in it.

It is possible that some users do not assign the formal terminology of “voice assistants” to the technology with which they might be on a first-name basis; for example, Siri, Alexa, or “Okay, Google.” That’s suggested by Zazzle’s finding that 68% of users acknowledged the convenience of a voice assistant, saying that they were able to find information quicker by using this technology over typing out a query.

The-State-of-Voice-Search-2018-Zazzle-Media(2)Source: Zazzle

That finding is supported by our own findings that about a quarter of users who do use voice assistants do so to answer questions.

Which of the following describes the way you use your voice assistant -- like Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri -- the most_ (1)

To repeat our earlier point: More top contenders in the voice assistant market continuing to release newer models of their smart speakers, with improved functionalities and additional features. As the technology improves and scales, it could become more widespread and accessible to consumers, broadening the value and use cases.

And as it does, points out HubSpot’s head of SEO Victor Pan, so do the different platforms where customers can be reached.

“Pay attention to when your customers start to adopt,” Pan says — such as voice. “The point of marketing is to be where your customers are.”


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