Google embraces Internet Explorer tech to help improve Chrome's scrolling

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Google and Microsoft aren’t exactly friends, but the two companies are working closely to add some Microsoft magic to Chrome that could improve the browser’s scrolling issues—especially on mobile. Google recently said it would introduce Microsoft’s Pointer Events (a technology that controls mouse, touch, and stylus inputs) in Chrome.

Pointer Events is adopted by other major browsers, including Firefox and Internet Explorer, but Apple’s Safari does not support it. Google says it decided to support Microsoft’s tech after feedback from web developers, browser vendors, and others in the web community, as first reported by The Verge.

Google says Pointer Events should improve the initial scroll stuttering users sometime experience on mobile.  “Replacing all touch event handlers with pointer event handlers will address the main longstanding source of scroll-start jank we see on Android,” Google’s Rick Byers said on a Google Groups post.

The big win, however, is for developers who can take advantage of one input model technology across Chrome, Firefox, and IE.

Google’s decision to implement Pointer Events comes one month after the Microsoft technology was adopted as a standard by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The impact on you at home: Don’t expect to see Pointer Events show up in the mainstream build of Chrome soon. Byers says implementation will take some time as it builds Pointer Events into Blink—the rendering engine that powers Chromium and Chrome. After that it will slowly filter down to alpha and beta builds of Chrome before hitting the stable versions most people use on their PCs and mobile devices.

Once implemented, Pointer Events will exist on all Chrome platforms, including Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Chrome OS, and Android.

Reversing course

The decision to embrace Pointer Events comes less than a year after Google’s Chromium team had decided against implementing Pointer Events. Instead, the Chromium team said it would stick with an alternative called Touch Events, which is supported by Apple’s Safari.

At the time, the Chromium team said it wouldn’t support Pointer Events because it didn’t believe Microsoft’s tech would ever be more widely supported than Touch Events, owing to Safari’s dominance on mobile devices. Google’s browser makers also cited performance drawbacks to adopting Pointer Events.

Despite its reversal, the Chromium team still believes that Pointer Events has some problems and hopes to work toward creating a standard that is interoperable between Chrome, Firefox, and IE

The Internet of Things and the currency of privacy

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If you’re like most people, you share a lot of personal information with companies like Google and Facebook for the convenience their free services provide. In turn, these companies sell your tastes and preferences to marketers, probably for less than $2 a pop.

You read that right. The Financial Times created an online calculator to estimate how much your data is worth down to the penny. Mine is worth $1.55. Face it: Privacy is a commodity; even a form of currency. And everybody’s info is worth a different dollar figure – to marketers, and to you.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) proliferates, providing us with more connected gadgets, marketers will get to know you even better. Consider what your watch, your light bulbs, and your refrigerator can add to the conversation.

The advertising industry is already salivating over the Internet of Things’ potential. “The primary benefit of the IoT to marketers is the remarkable consumer data it provides,” wrote Marko Muellner in a ClickZ article. (ClickZ is a news site for the marketing industry.)

Big data keep on turnin’

According to George Lee, the Chief Information Officer of Goldman Sachs’ Investment Banking Division, “Ninety percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years.” The large Internet companies are the primary collectors of this massive assemblage of bits.

We’re all complicit in these data gathering methods. We choose to join social networks, and we tell them where we are and what we’re doing. We carry smartphones that, by their very nature, track our location. And we sign off on the collection and use of this data as a mandatory and cursory matter when we sign up for any new service.

And most of the time, there are no negative results. The corporations will use your data for targeted advertising and market research, creating a smarter and more efficient system for ecommerce.

Still, many people feel uncomfortable with these practices. A growing awareness of exactly how these big data tools work is leading people to be more guarded about the information they share online. In the future, as they become perpetually more connected and ingrained in the economy of information, consumers will look to strike a clearer definition of what data they see as ‘private’, what they are willing to provide in exchange for services, and what kind of a price tag to put on it. Armed with the right knowledge and outlook, you can make this arrangement work to your advantage.

Know the tradeoffs and buy in with your eyes open

ClickZ’s Muellner acknowledges that “We’ll only get access to that data by providing real value in exchange.” In other words, consumers won’t turn over their personal information unless they get something out of it, like a free online service or a smart home convenience. By gauging the value of that service or convenience against an understanding of the type of information it can accumulate, you can intelligently weigh the risks and make an informed decision about the value of your privacy

Twitter Testing Auto-Play Videos on Timeline

Twitter is reportedly testing auto-playing videos and a ‘quality filter’ on its app platforms.According to a report by Advertising Age, some Twitter users on iPhone and iPad in the US will start to notice some videos playing automatically in their feed starting Tuesday. The auto-play video feature is in testing stage, notes the report, citing a company spokesperson.

“We’re running a small test on a few variations on the video playback experience,” a Twitter spokesman said in an emailed statement to Advertising Age.

The auto-playing video test is said to be effective on promoted video ads, videos uploaded through Twitter’s mobile app, and clips that are part of Twitter’s Amplify program.

Some people will see the entire video playing automatically in a loop, while some will only see a six-second loop, notes Advertising Age citing a person familiar with plan. Further, both formats will play the videos on mute, but if users click on the videos they will expand to full-screen and play with sound. So far, Twitter-owned Vine videos will not play automatically as a part of this test, notes the report.

On the other hand, Twitter on Tuesday released an update to its iOS app bringing “Quality filter” feature, first noticed by Anil Dash via The Verge, to help users remove unwanted content from their timeline. The feature is in testing and only available to Verified users, a company spokesperson told Verge.

twitter_quality_filter_anildash.jpg“Quality filtering aims to remove all tweets from your notifications timeline that contain threats, offensive or abuse language, duplicate content, or are sent from suspicious accounts,” notes Twitter for the feature.

Vessel Video Streaming Service Launched, Bets Fans Will Pay for Early Access

Online video platform Vessel launched its paid subscription service on Tuesday, offering programming at least three days before other websites in a bid to reshape an industry dominated by free content on Google Inc’s YouTube.

Vessel, which costs viewers $3 a month, was founded by former Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar and Chief Technology Officer Richard Tom. They aim to create an early window for a selection of web video, similar to the way movies are released in theatres before they arrive on cable TV or the Internet.

“Early access is very valuable,” Kilar said in an interview. “There are a lot of consumers who would love to see something early.”

More than 130 creators will provide early access to content on Vessel. After the exclusive period ends, videos can go to YouTube, Vimeo, Vevo or other free, ad-supported sites, and are free on Vessel.

YouTube stars such as Ingrid Nilsen, Rhett & Link and Shane Dawson are among creators whose videos will make their debut on Vessel. Other programming comes from online networks such as food-oriented Tastemade and celebrities such as Alec Baldwin.

Video creators on Vessel keep 70 percent of ad revenue, compared with 55 percent that is typical on YouTube, plus 60 percent of Vessel subscription revenue.

With those incentives, the new service will be an easier sell to creators than offering viewers who are used to watching videos for free, said Brett Sappington, director of research at Parks Associates.

“Vessel must rely on content creators’ popularity and self-marketing to entice their loyal viewers into paying a monthly fee,” he said.

The service is free for one year for viewers who sign up within the first three days.

It is unlikely YouTube will lose significant revenue from a migration to Vessel, Sappington said. YouTube made its debut a decade ago and has more than 1 billion users.

A YouTube spokeswoman said the platform’s creators are pulling in higher revenue, boosted last year by a program called Google Preferred for advertising on the most popular channels. Year-over-year revenue rose 70 percent for the top 100 channels after Google Preferred launched, she said.

Vessel, which raised $77 million in venture capital funds, also includes free videos with ads. KFC, Chevy and McDonald’s are among the initial sponsors. One option is five-second ads, shorter than the 30-second spots that usually run before online videos.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Dual-SIM Variant Spotted Online

Samsung was earlier this month rumoured to launch the dual-SIM variant of its 2015 flagship, the Galaxy S6, in some regions. Now, a Russian online retailer has further cemented those claims by listing a dual-SIM variant of the Samsung Galaxy S6 on its site, dubbed the Galaxy S6 Duos.A Russian publication named Hi Tech Mail has posted a screenshot purportedly showing a listing of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Duos. According to the listing, the Galaxy S6 Duos will be available in Russia at RUB 52,990 (approximately Rs. 56,350) while the 32GB Galaxy S6 will come at RUB 49,999 (approximately Rs. 53,000).

Notably, both the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Duos come with same model number SM-G920, which seems unlikely. Further, the listing also purportedly show that the Samsung Galaxy S6 Duos will be available only in a 64GB inbuilt storage variant.

If the report turns out to be true, the Samsung Galaxy S6 might be one of first flagship handsets from the South Korean giant to receive a dual-SIM variant. The Samsung Galaxy S5 launched internationally supported just single SIM.

Earlier this month, a report claimed that Samsung might launch a dual-SIM variant of the Galaxy S6 in Philippines, citing local Samsung representatives. According to report, the Galaxy S6 would support dual Nano-SIM cards while just one slot will support 4G LTE.

The dual curved-display variant, Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, is likely to be available in a single-SIM model only.

Samsung on Monday launched the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge premium smartphones in India. The Samsung Galaxy S6 will be available at Rs. 49,900 for the 32GB variant while the equivalent Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is priced at Rs. 58,900. Both the smartphones will be available for purchase starting April 10 in the country while pre-orders opened on Monday.

Twitter Bringing Location Tagging to Tweets With Foursquare

Twitter on Monday announced that the ability to tag locations in tweets with Foursquare is “coming soon.”The micro-blogging website previewed the feature in a video along with a tweet that reads, “Coming soon! We’re working with @foursquare so you can tag specific locations in Tweets.”

Twitter’s support page for “Adding your location to a Tweet” notes that users will be able to add a location to their tweets on the Web, as well as on Android, iOS, and all other Twitter mobile applications. Additionally, Android or iOS apps will be able to include precise location (e.g., the coordinates of the street intersection where you tweeted) in addition to the location label that the user selects.

“For example: To give additional location context to your Tweet, you can add a general location label such as ‘SoMa, San Francisco.’ In select locations, on Twitter for iOS and Twitter for Android, you may also label your Tweet with the name of a specific business, landmark, or other point of interest. These locations are provided byFoursquare.”

Meanwhile, Twitter is testing auto-playing videos and a ‘Quality filter’ for its app platforms. The auto-playing video test is said to be effective on promoted video ads, videos uploaded through Twitter’s mobile app, and clips that are part of Twitter’s Amplify program. On the other hand, the ‘quality filter’ feature is to help verified users remove unwanted content from their timeline.

eBay: Striking a balance between engagement and utility

At the end of the massive SXSW interactive conference in Austin, we caught up with Dave Lippman, eBay’s vice president of design and executive creative director to chat about how he is working to transform eBay into a universal and personalized e-commerce platform.

“We have the world’s stuff, but it’s not like the yard sale or auction everyone has in their mind,” Lippman told TNW. The new eBay strives for personalization and seeks to establish an emotional connection with users. And, of course, there’s a primary concentration on mobile platforms now, with the e-commerce site’s new iPad app.

Regardless of where, how and for what people shop online, the primary question has become: How do you balance engagement with utility?

Some of those same concepts were also explored in How We Shop: The Presentation of Curation a highly interactive panel at SXSW, where Lippman joined  Fred Dust, partner at Ideo and Michael Phillips Moskowitz, chief curator and editorial director at eBay to bat around ideas with the packed audience.

In our interview, Lippman talks about his move from Apple to eBay and the opportunity he took to transform the “e-commerce 1.0 site” into the entity that we see today and where it’s going in the future.

He also traces his own history, from his job as creative director for Apple’s online store to his current position in charge of the design experience applied to the “organized chaos” of eBay.

He also discusses eBay’s evolution as a marketplace, how changing a site’s design can help manifest change within the company, and his reasons for moving from a well-established company with core and ever advancing products to one that serves multiple, diverse constituencies.

What Your SEO Company May Not be Telling You

Your company invests thousands of dollars in SEO services and the work done may be entirely satisfying and meet your needs. That’s a good place to be because it means your SEO company is delivering everything you expect and at a price that you can afford. Yet, there may be some things your SEO company may not be telling you, including a few points that may be a mystery to you.

Point No. 1 — Your money is being spent to achieve results, but you’re not exactly sure how. That sizable check you issue each month for SEO services seems worth it. After all, you’re doing well in the search engine results pages for your top words and traffic to your site has been steadily increasing. This is all well and good if your SEO company is employing generally accepted practices to help your site thrive. However, you may soon learn that your company was using black hat techniques to advance your site with a resultant penalty from Google soon to be dispensed. Ask your SEO provider to demonstrate how they are achieving their results.


Point No. 2 — You’ve given the SEO company access to your website and therein lies a big danger. Some SEO companies ask their customers to provide FTP access to their website, whereby they can add links, tweak text and modify keywords to promote SEO. This is an acceptable practice as long as it is done judiciously. A problem arises when links point to suspect sites, including a duplicate site crafted to aid your site. Not only will the duplicate site be penalized by Google, but your main bread and butter site will be harmed too. Find out why the company wants FTP access and only give it if certain parameters are followed. Then, monitor that activity to ensure compliance.

Point No. 3 — The content developed on behalf of your company is subpar. Let’s face it: not everyone can write or write well. You may find that the SEO company has a plan to improve your site by adding content. Well, that content must meet your criteria, including in its originality, interest and compliance with your style. If it does not, all that added work will be a waste. Not only will your customers see through it, but the search engines will slap you for your sloppiness.

Point No. 4 — The SEO company changes your site’s structure. You have used a certain theme and layout on your website, but the SEO company has since changed it. This is not necessarily bad, especially if the new site is easy to navigate, wisely laid out and cohesive. You should know that not all structural changes are good, especially if the company did not check its own work to ensure that navigation is working, that pictures are adequately labeled and that ads are properly positioned. Demand that your SEO company share those plans before any structural changes are accomplished.

Point No. 5 — A lot of small fees add up. It is not uncommon for SEO companies to charge you for pass through expenses. After all, they may incur some costs along the way. Those fees, however, should not be padded. That means you are charged what the SEO company is charged. Have your accounting team carefully review invoices and require the SEO company to provide line item costs with copies of receipts. Do not pay for any service you didn’t authorize first.

SEO Companies

No, not all SEO companies are out to pick your pocket or engage in suspect practices. It is important that you have a good relationship with the company, one that begins by carefully checking references, scrutinizing contracts and insisting and regular interaction. The best companies do all of that and more.

Apple Lets Firms Fine-Tune Apps Before Watch Debut on Monday

Apple Inc has allowed some companies to test their apps on its yet-to-be-launched Apple Watch and adjust the tools to the watch’s design, Bloomberg reported.Facebook Inc, United Continental Holdings Inc, BMW AG and others have spent weeks at Apple’s headquarters, working with the smartwatch to test and fine-tune apps that will debut alongside the device, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the process.

The watch, which will let consumers check their email, pay for goods at retail stores and monitor personal health information, will be Apple’s first major product launch since the iPad in 2010.

The company has scheduled a special event in San Francisco on March 9 where it is expected to showcase Apple Watch, which will be launched in April.

Apple uses extreme measures to keep its work secret – Internet access is blocked inside the rooms and no outside materials can be brought in, Bloomberg reported, citing a person who attended the tests.

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller and Facebook spokeswoman Johanna Peace declined to comment. Reuters could not immediately reach United Continental and BMW for comment outside regular business hours.

German carmaker BMW said on Thursday its talks with Apple did not involve developing or building a car, denying a German magazine report.

Google is developing a virtual reality version of Android

Google is reportedly developing a virtual reality version of Android that will compete with software being built by Facebook, Samsung, Microsoft and others.

Virtual reality is being eyed as the next big thing, and not just for gaming. Facebook has talked about how VR headsets will let friends communicate as if they’re together in the same room.

A team of engineers at Google is building a version of Android for virtual reality applications, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing two people familiar with the project. “Tens of engineers” and other staff are said to be working on the project.

The OS would be freely distributed, the report said, mirroring the strategy that made Android the most popular OS for smartphones. The report didn’t provide any launch plans, and Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

With rivals investing heavily in VR, it would make sense for Google to build its own OS. Facebook has referred to VR as the next big platform after mobile, and it bought headset maker Oculus VR last year for US$2 billion.

They see VR as the future because it provides an immersive experience for gaming, entertainment, communications, and perhaps other applications not thought of yet. It’s still a way from mass adoption, though, and some people report getting nausea from VR systems, or just don’t want a big display strapped to their head.

Still, there are lots of players in the space. Samsung has Gear VR, Sony has Project Morpheus, and Microsoft has HoloLens.

Google, clearly, doesn’t want to be left behind.

Virtual reality factored big in this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Oculus has partnered with Samsung for the Gear VR headset, though the current model is incomplete and intended for early adopters. Oculus said during the show it plans to launch a fleshed out consumer version by the end of this year.

Google has already signaled an interest in augmented reality, where images and other digital content is overlaid on the real world. It invested in Magic Leap, a startup developing a wearable system for augmented reality.

Google also has Project Tango, which uses a smartphone camera to create a 3D map of people’s surroundings, so apps can better understand their physical environment.

Leading the Android VR effort are veterans Clay Bavor and Jeremy Doig, the Wall Street Journal said. Bavor helped to create Google Cardboard, the company’s low-tech virtual reality viewer that attracted attention at last year’s Google I/O conference.

Google Cardboard is essentially a piece of cardboard with some extra components that can turn an Android smartphone into a 3-D viewer.

In developing Cardboard, Google may have learned lessons to apply to a full-fledged Android VR OS.

And who knows, it may also have learned a little something about VR from Google Glass, the consumer version of which is now on hold.