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The pandemic accelerated ecommerce growth to Mach-10 speeds. As we finally emerge from a year like no other, we find ourselves in a new world where ecommerce reigns supreme.
Congratulations to all of you out there with stock in Amazon!
But what does it all mean to us digital marketers? Can we loosen our seat belts a little bit now as we return to a new normal?
Brands must now move even more quickly to keep up with all the dynamic changes while equipping themselves with an increasingly sophisticated Amazon strategy.TL;DR Four Amazon Brand-Building Non-Negotiables
Voice: Building your brand on Amazon has options like never before – leverage creative options here as a strategic differentiator both organic and paid.
Connect off- and on-Amazon consumer behavior: Use the new tools to measure off-Amazon traffic effectiveness like Amazon Attribution.
Operational excellence: Here to stay; don’t neglect the day-to-day and long-term business strategies that can lead to both cost savings and margin-boosting.Welcome to the New Normal
It’s been reported the pandemic accelerated the shift to ecommerce by five years. While ecommerce growth is predicted to slow down in 2023, it’s still moving fast and now sits on top of a much larger base.
And as a whole, ecommerce accounts for a much larger share of the market since brick and mortar retail is contracting.
Simply put, the world has embraced shopping online like never before and will continue to do so moving forward. There’s been no bigger winner in all of this, of course, than Amazon, whose profit soared 220% last quarter compared to the same period last year.Optimizing on Amazon
Advertisers who still think of Amazon as a purely direct response channel are living in the past. Branding on Amazon is crucial for building brand equity and establishing trust with Amazon customers.
Even before the pandemic, Amazon was building an environment where brands can create stickier connections to consumers.
The good news is that there are more tools than ever before to tell your brand story and build a unique brand identity on Amazon.
It continues to create and upgrade opportunities across the platform with content such as Sponsored Brands video, Sponsored Brands Custom Image, Brand Stories (A+ Content), Amazon Stores, Amazon Posts, and Amazon OTT.
If you find yourself in that boat, go out and look for a partner who knows what they’re doing (fast!).Optimizing Off Amazon
Until now it has been a challenge for brands to figure out the effectiveness of outside traffic sources on Amazon and how their shopper journeys lead them to Amazon. New tools (finally) exist to measure off-Amazon traffic effectiveness for the first time.
With Amazon Attribution, brands can now quantify the impact of display, search, social, video channels, and email, based on how consumers discover, research, and buy their products on Amazon.
In plain English, how many times does someone Google it and then buy it on Amazon?
This knowledge informs ecommerce site investment and can help brands lift traffic to the site by using a blended revenue equation that lifts revenue volume on both direct purchases and ecommerce site-assisted conversions finalized on Amazon.Video, Video, and More Video
Amazon OTT has quickly gained attention for its unique ability to use Amazon’s first-party data to support both brand performance initiatives and broader reach objectives. More than just a brand play or a performance play, Amazon OTT is a complete performance channel that offers scale, measurability, and data-driven targeting.
Once again, brands should be armed with a go-to-market strategy or OTT both on and off Amazon.Amazon Operations
That includes everything from contract terms, inventory allocation, case management, demand forecasting, competitive intel, chargebacks, purchase order management, catalog management, white space analysis, and profitability maximization.
Brands that have plateaued on Amazon may likely find huge gains can be made in these areas.
This type of end-to-end channel management is not a place where many marketers are comfortable but it needs to be.
Again, if this is not in your wheelhouse, find a company to partner with that can help guide you.Beyond Amazon: Biggest Advertising Trends in 2023
While Amazon was one of the biggest winners of the surge in ecommerce from the pandemic, it became painfully clear to many brands that future success requires a nimble approach not just on Amazon, but on other channels as well.
In any endeavor, putting all your eggs in one basket is not a good look and the same holds true when operating on Amazon.
Having backup fulfillment, product sourcing, and additional sales channels will be key to weathering future unforeseen changes in the marketplace.
In other words, a nimble Amazon strategy means optimizing your presence both on and off Amazon.
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Have you recently jumped on the bandwagon and purchased an Amazon Echo? If you’re like me, you’ve probably heard a lot of great things about the device and how a lot of people simply love their Echo!
Well, I decided to see what all the hype was about and got one for myself. I have to admit, the Echo is pretty fun to use and it’s really useful if you have kids around. My kids love asking it to play music and I’ve installed several skills so that they can play math games, word games, etc.
Table of Contents
In this article, I’m going to talk about how to quickly get your Echo setup and how to configure it so that you can get the most benefit from all of its current features. Amazon keeps adding new features to the Echo pretty much every week, so I’ll keep posting new articles when those new features make it to the device.Setting Up an Echo
When you get your Echo and unbox it, you’ll basically see three items inside: the Echo, the power adapter and some instructions. To get started, you start by plugging it into a wall outlet. While the device is booting up, you can go ahead and download the Amazon Alexa app from iTunes or the Google Play Store.
Once you download the app, go ahead and login with your Amazon account credentials.
Once you have signed in, go ahead and close the app and then check your Echo. By default, once it boots up, the ring that goes around the top should light up orange. This means it’s ready to start the WiFi setup process.
If, for some reason, the light is not orange, just press and hold the Action button for 5 seconds. The Action button is the one with just the single dot in the center. Now go to your phone and go to the WiFi settings section.
When the light is orange on the Echo, you should see an Amazon-WVM WiFi network that you can connect to. Once you connect to that network, go ahead and open the Alexa app on your device. It should automatically detect that you are trying to setup the device, but if not, tap the three horizontal lines at the top left, then tap on Settings and then tap on Set up a new device.
The setup screen should appear and it will remind you to make sure that the light ring is orange before continuing.
If everything is properly setup, you should see a Connected to Echo message on the next screen. Tap Continue to continue the setup.
On the next screen, you have to choose a WiFi network to connect your Echo to. This will be the WiFi network that your Echo connects to when it is powered on. Note that you can change the WiFi network or connect to additional networks later on using the app.
The next screen will show you a progress bar as your Echo is prepared.
Once everything is setup, you should be able to start talking to the Echo! When you open the app, you’ll see the Home screen gives you a tip and then just has one card telling you to customize Alexa.
The way the Echo works is that whenever you ask it something, it will respond via voice, but it will also create a card in the Alexa app that you will see on the home screen. For example, if you say “Alexa” and then say “What’s the weather like?“, it will tell you verbally, but it will also show the information in the app.
It’s kind of a history log of everything you have said to Alexa. To activate your Echo, you have to say the word “Alexa“. You can change this in the settings later if you like, but only to “Amazon” or “Echo“. That might change in the future, though.Customizing Alexa
The first thing you probably want to do once the Echo is up and running is to train your voice so that it better understands you. To do this, go to the app, tap on the three lines at the top left, tap on Settings and then tap on Voice Training. It’s directly below the Set up a new device option I had mentioned towards the beginning of the article.
Once you have done that, you should configure your music, news, sports, calendar and traffic. To do all of that, go to Settings again and scroll down to the section that says Account.
These are all pretty easy to setup, so I won’t go into much detail. For Music & Media, you can play music from Amazon if you have Prime or Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio or TuneIn. Under Flash Briefing, you can configure a whole bunch of news programs like CNN, NPR, BBC, HuffPost, etc. Don’t go too crazy with this section though because your news briefing might end up being 40 minutes long!
Under Sports Update, just search for all your favorite teams and Alexa will give you an update on all of them when you ask. Traffic only allows you to enter a start and ending destination for now, so it is only good for people who commute everyday on the same route, i.e. home to work. Under Calendar, you can log into your Google Calendar and then use Alexa to add events to your calendar.
So what exactly do you say to activate all of these functions? Well, there are two ways to learn the commands. You can tap on the three lines at the top left and then tap on Things to Try or you can read all the commands online.
The other built-in features of Alexa are Timers & Alarms and Shopping & To-do lists. To set a timer, all you have to say is “Alexa, set a timer for x minutes.” For an alarm, just say “Alexa, set an alarm for 4 o’clock in the evening.” You can also say AM or PM if you like.
For the lists, just say “Alexa, add x to my shopping list” or “Alexa, add your-phrase to my to-do list.” Alexa, can also answer various questions like simple math or conversions. For facts, the device seems to rely on Wikipedia, so that’s either a good or bad thing, depending on who you ask. You can ask it things like “Who is the president of X country?” or “What is the capital of X state” or even something like “Name all of the continents”.Alexa Skills
The real power of Alexa, though, comes in the form of skills. If you tap on the three lines and then Skills, you’ll get a list of all the ways you can enhance the Echo. These are basically little apps written for the Echo by various companies or individuals.
There are a bunch of skills, but currently most of them are silly or useless. However, the list is getting better by the day and some are really good. For my kids, I use Baby Animals, Spelling Bee, Human Body Quiz, Mental Math, and Dinosaur Facts. I really like the Mental Math skill for my five-year old daughter.
For myself, I use the Capital One skill, This Day in History and Random World Facts. I also have the TP-LINK Kasa and SmartThings skills enabled so I can control my switches, etc. via Alexa. In a future post, I’ll write instructions on how to setup your Smart Home devices with Alexa.
Windows 10 Creators Update is the third major feature update that Microsoft is releasing for PC, phone, Xbox, IoT, and HoloLens devices with a slew of new features, changes, and improvements.
The update is available for download starting April 11, 2023. Initially, Microsoft plans to push the Creators Update to select PCs, laptops, and tablets will be getting the update first, and when the update has been proven to work as expected, the company will continue the rollout with other devices. Eventually, the Creators Update will also release for Windows 10 Mobile, Xbox One, and other devices.
Microsoft is referring the update as “Windows 10 version 1703” following the same version scheme we’ve seen with the Anniversary Update (version 1607), and the November Update (version 1511), which indicates the year and month of the release.
Similar to previous releases, the Creators Update is available as a free update for devices running Windows 10.
Formerly known with the Windows 10 “Redstone 2” codename, this is a significant update that will focus on making everyone a creator with new features and experiences.What’s new on the Windows 10 Creators Update
Here’s the list of the most exciting features coming to Windows 10 with the Creators Update.Start menu
On this version of the operating system, Microsoft continues to make improvements in the Start menu. In the Creators Update, you’ll be able to hide the app list with a new toggle switch in the Settings app.
With this new implementation, you can now see two extra buttons in the left rail to switch between the tiles and the apps list view. The new feature works identically to the Start screen on tablet mode.Cortana
Microsoft’s digital assistant is getting more useful. In the Creators Update, the assistant can now to control music playback on more apps, including iHeartRadio and TuneIn Radio. And you won’t have to repeat the name of the app every time you say a command, because Cortana will remember the last app you used to play music.
One exciting new feature is Cortana in full-screen mode. Now when your computer is unlocked and idle for at least 10 seconds, you can say “Hey Cortana” to get the same full-screen experience you can get now while your PC is locked.
As more developers continue to integrate Cortana into their apps, it’s becoming difficult to keep up on the voice commands you can use with specific apps. To address this issue, in the Creators Update, when you type the name of an app in the search box, Cortana will surface commands suggestions that you can use.
Similar to Apple’s macOS Handoff, you can now start working on an app, file, or website you’re reading on Microsoft Edge, and pick up where you left off on another computer using Cortana. This feature works automatically on all your devices running the Creators Update, and you can see all your activities you can resume from the Cortana home page and on Action Center.File Explorer
While there has been rumors in the past of Microsoft building a new File Explorer, it seems that the experience will remain virtually unchanged. However, you’ll now see new tip notifications to help users discover the new features in Windows 10.Windows Share Capture
Windows 10 now lets you use the Windows + Shift + S keyboard shortcut to capture a region of your screen and copy it to the clipboard. You can then paste it in OneNote or any other app.Action Center
As part of the new Windows 10 Creators Update features set, Action Center isn’t not getting a lot of significant changes, but Windows Store now shows download progress inside of the Action Center.Lunar calendar
The Date & Time settings page incorporates a new option to add the Simplified or Traditional Chinese lunar calendar to the calendar flyout on the Taskbar.Touchpad settings
One way the company is improving touch on Windows 10 is by adding new touchpad functionalities. Now you’ll see a new Touchpad settings page to configure options for three and four finger gestures. In addition, a new “Advanced Gestures Configuration” page will let you configure even more settings.Virtual touchpad
There is also a new virtual touchpad available for tablets that you can use to control external monitors. This feature is available through the taskbar when connecting a secondary display to the tablet.
The virtual touchpad supposed to work just like a physical touchpad with a left and right buttons and a touchpad area.Storage Sense
Storage Sense is a new feature that when enabled allows Windows 10 to automatically delete unnecessary temporary files and those items that have been in the recycle bin for over 30 days to free up space on your computer.Personalization
The Creators Update continues to improve the personalization features to let you customize the look and feel of Windows 10.
On Windows 10 version 1703, the Personalization page adds a new color picker to lets you select any color, and not just a set of predefined colors.
Additionally, you can now download themes from the Windows Store, and you have the choice to get free and paid themes to personalize your experience.Apps
This new version breaks the System settings section into two sections, including System and Apps.
Apps is now the place you’ll find the settings for Apps & features, Default apps, Offline maps, and Apps for websites.
All the settings in this section remains exactly the same, except that Apps & features now introduces a new option to control what type of apps are allowed to install on your computer.
Under “Installing apps”, you can choose to only allow installation of Store apps, get warning when installing a non-Store app but allow their installation, or choose to allow installation of apps from anywhere.
Additionally, when you uninstall built-in app, such as Mail and Feedback Hub, Windows 10 will remember, and it won’t automatically reinstall them again when you upgrade to a new version.Dynamic Lock
Dynamic Lock (Windows Goodbye) is a new feature that automatically locks your device when you’re not around based on the proximity of a Bluetooth-paired phone. When your Bluetooth-paired phone is not found near your computer, Windows 10 turns off the screen and locks the PC after 30 seconds.
You’ll find the feature particularly useful for organizations to add an extra layer of security for employees who have to be working with sensitive information on their computers.
Another minor improvement includes no longer having to press the Num Lock key to enter a PIN as you sign in to Windows 10.Windows Update
The new approach reduces the download size of a feature update by 35 percent, making it faster to upgrade to a new version. The Unified Update Platform will benefit all devices (especially mobile devices), as installation will reduce processor cycles and less power, optimizing battery life laptops, tablets, and phones.
The update servicing mechanism makes it faster for devices to check for updates as the Windows Update server will be the ones doing most of the work to identify which updates need to be downloaded on the device.
Windows 10 now offers a prompt with options to postpone pending updates and prevent sudden reboots. When a new update is ready to install, you’ll get a prompt with a new snooze option that will delay applying and rebooting your computer for 3 days, which should be enough time to save your work.
On an effort to address the ongoing problems with mandatory updates, Microsoft is also adding a new option to let you temporarily “pause updates” from being installed on your computer for up to 7 days.
In addition, you can now set Active Hours up to 18 hours, this way Windows 10 won’t try to restart to apply new updates during those hours. Previously, you could only set up this feature up to 12 hours. Windows Update will detect whether if you’re projecting to prevent automatically restarting.Troubleshoot
Microsoft is adding a new Troubleshoot page in the Settings app to find and fix many common problems, including network, audio, printer, Windows Update, Blue Screen of Death, Bluetooth, hardware and other devices.Networking
The Creators Update also introduces support for wireless 802.11ad technology, also known as WiGig.
Using WiGig, supported wireless network adapters and routers can make use of the 60Ghz frequency to deliver up to 8Gbps speeds. However, this isn’t something that you’ll be able to just turn on. You’ll need to upgrade your wireless adapter and router to support 802.11ad.
On Windows 10 version 1703, you can set Ethernet connections as metered. Just like mobile broadband and Wi-Fi connections, this option helps you to restrict background data usage from some applications and gives you more control over how data is used over the Ethernet connection.
Also, Windows 10 now allows you to manually turn a Wi-Fi connection off with the option to set a schedule to automatically turn it back on after a predefined number of hours.Service hosts
Under the hood, on devices featuring 3.5GB or more RAM, service hosts will split into separate processes, as with today’s hardware there is not substantial memory-saving by grouping service hosts into one process.
Reliability: Because grouping services into one process can crash other services, this new approach removes the single point of failure scenario.
Transparency: Users will now be able to quickly see the processor, memory, disk & network that an individual service is using.
Servicing efficiency: Technical users will now be able to quickly pinpoint issues and get them resolve faster.
Security: Process isolation and individual permission set for services increases security in the operating system.Registry Editor
The Registry Editor hasn’t really changed much since Windows 95. However, the Creators Update adds a new address bar to quickly jump to a path, and the ability to change the font style. These aren’t very significant improvements, but nonetheless are good additions.Scaling (High-DPI) support
Although the operating system does a decent job scaling the user interface on high-DPI displays, traditional desktop applications don’t scale well. In the Creators Update there are new scaling improvements and some desktop applications will automatically look more crisp on displays with high density pixels.
Additionally, because desktop icons don’t scale or arrange properly, especially after docking/undocking your device, when using a multi-monitor setup with different scaling settings. On version 1703, when working with a multi-monitor configuration (e.g., dock/undock device, project to an external display, and add or remove monitor), icons will now scale properly.Picture-in-Picture
The Creators Update is also introducing a new Picture-in-Picture mode, which Microsoft calls “compact overlay”. The new feature allows developers to add a compact view to their Windows Store apps. This way, you can continue to do other things, such as watching a movie or having a Skype video call while you’re checking your emails.3D & mixed reality
The new Windows 10 Creators Update features set brings 3D to the masses and affordable mixed reality gear for everyone.
In this new version, the operating system includes a new version of the Paint app simply called “Paint 3D” with a new user interface to support creating, capturing, printing, and sharing on 3D.
Microsoft has also unveiled Remix 3D, which is an online community to find and share 3D projects with other people. In addition, Office will be adding 3D support sometime in 2023, and more apps will get 3D in the future.
The next major update of Windows 10 includes augmented reality and virtual reality out-of-the-box with the addition of Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality shell. This will enable users to experience apps, games, and media in a total different way.
Here are the minimum hardware requirement for mixed reality:
Processor: Intel Mobile Core i5 (e.g. 7200U) Dual-Core with Hyperthreading equivalent
Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics 620 (GT2) equivalent or greater DX12 API Capable GPU
Memory: 8GB+ Dual Channel required for integrated graphics
HDMI 2.0 or DP 1.3+ with 2880×1440 @ 90Hz
Storage: 100GB+ SSD (Preferred) / HDD
Bluetooth: 4.0 and above for accessories.Night light
Similar to Android’s Night mode and Apple’s Night Shift, Windows 10 version 1703 now includes Night Light, a new feature to adjust your display tone and colors to help reduce eye strain and improve your sleep quality.Braille
The Creators Update brings support for braille input and output through the Ease of Access settings. Support braille displays is available for more than 35 manufacturers, using more than 40 languages and multiple braille variants, including grade 2 contracted braille.
Alongside brailler support, in this new version, you’ll find improvements on Narrator support, there are new audio experiences, and Microsoft is improving the integration of Windows 10 with assistive technologies with other products, including Office 365.Privacy settings
Windows 10 is also introducing new changes that makes it easier to choose the privacy and diagnostic data collection settings.
The new experience looks identically to the new privacy settings panel you’ll see during the new out-of-box-experience (OOBE), and it’s easier to understand.Windows Ink
In the pen support front, Windows Ink will be bringing a number of improvements, including a new protractor tool for Sketchpad and Screen sketch.
On Screen Sketch and Sketchpad, you’ll get a preview of color and width of the ink as you make your choices in the pen, pencil, and highlighter flyouts. And Screen Sketch gets a new Resume previous option to recover previous sketches.
Sticky Notes gets updated as well with support for address, time, phone number, stock symbols, and flight information when using digital ink.Windows Defender
Windows 10 now includes a new Windows Defender dashboard that uses the same design language we’re now seeing on the Store, and it’s known as “Windows Defender Security Center”.
Alongside the new name, the dashboard is the new place to control malware protection, device performance and health, firewall and network protection, and family options.
Windows Defender Security Center also includes “Fresh start” to reinstall the operating system when things aren’t working correctly. This new feature helps you to do a clean install of Windows 10 with the latest update.
Using the new process will keep your files and some of your settings, but it’ll remove most of your applications.
It should be noted that Windows Defender Antivirus no longer appears in the Settings app, now everything is managed through the new dashboard.Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge is also part of Windows 10, and it’s getting significant improvements.
Currently hovering over a tab will pop a small preview overlaying on top of the page, which can get in the way of other elements. With version 1703, Microsoft Edge now gets a new tab management system that pushes the content down unveiling a preview of all your open tabs in a carousel view.
The browser also introduces “Tab I’ve set aside,” which is a new feature to save a group of tabs for later viewing.
Perhaps another interesting feature is Microsoft Edge in HoloLens also evolves for a more immersive 3D experience with support for WebVR, a standard that allows websites to offer virtual reality experiences similar to desktop applications.
As the internet continues is transition from Adobe Flash to HTML5, similar to other web browsers, Microsoft Edge will by default block Adobe Flash content by default to improve battery life, performance, and security. However, the company will allow users to enable Flash on those site you visit frequently with an option that will appear in address bar.
According to Microsoft, 46% of people buying online leave the site during the payment process due to complexity and required effort. In the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft Edge introduces a new Payment Request API that connects to Microsoft Wallet to access user’s payment information and complete a checkout securely using a Microsoft account.
In addition, because payment information is stored in your Microsoft Wallet, users don’t have to go through the traditional checkout flows and repeatedly enter the payment information and shipping address repeatedly. The wallet feature for Microsoft Edge provides a faster and more consistent experiences across websites and devices.
The Creators Update also brings ebooks to Windows Store. Once you made your purchase, you’ll find your books in the new Books library inside of Hub.
Other customization options include text spacing to improve reading speed and comprehension. You can change the font and text size, themes, navigation control and more.
On version 1703, Microsoft Edge introduces an updated version of Web Notes with a new interface that matches the Windows Ink experience.
The browser also supports Brotli compression to offer better compression ratios and decompression speeds, which simply means that websites should now load faster.Windows 10 Creators Update gaming features
Xbox One and Windows 10 finally include support gaming in 4K resolution, and Beam integration offers in-game broadcasting.
For those unfamiliar, similar to Twitch and YouTube Gaming, Beam is a video gaming broadcasting platform recently acquired by Microsoft, and now it’ll be part of Xbox and Windows 10.
In addition, Microsoft is including full support for Dolby Atmos for Blu-ray content and games on Xbox One as well as on Windows 10. However, you’ll need a set of high-end speakers that support Atmos. Though the company says that virtually any pair of headphones will offer a similar experience.
Games you acquire from the Windows Store now include device drivers to make sure games you buy will always have the required driver for the game to run well.
On Windows 10, the software giant is bringing “Game Mode”, which is a new feature that allows the operating system to control the your system resources to increase gaming performance.
The new major update also adds a new Gaming section to the Settings app to configure Game Bar, Game DVR , Broadcasting, and Game mode.
On Xbox One, the Creators Update will add the ability for users to create custom tournaments to Arena on Xbox Live, and bitstream audio pass-through.
Microsoft is also working to improve the dashboard experience to make it easier and faster to access features using the controller.
The new update also adds a new Achievement tracking overlay, Gamerscore Leaderboard, a new Cortana design, and controls for background music. In addition to updates for Activity Feed, Clubs, and Looking For Group (LFG) to make easier to connect with other people.
Additional features include Windows Display Driver Model 2.2 (WDDM 2.2) to help in mixed reality scenarios. Windows 10 version 1703 also features high dynamic range (HDR) and wide color gamut support for games and media.Other Windows 10 Creators Update new features and changes
Control Panel also gets removed from Power User menu becoming a little harder to find as Microsoft wants you to use the new Settings app.
You can now create symlinks without elevating the Command Prompt to Administrator.Wrapping things up
Microsoft is releasing the Windows 10 Creators Update to everyone on April 11, 2023.
Keep track of every feature and change during the development of the this Windows 10 update here.
Editor’s note: This guide includes features and improvements that appeared until Windows 10 build 15063. It should be also noted that this guide focuses on features for consumers, as Microsoft is also additional features aimed for enterprises, which aren’t included here. Originally published in November 2024, updated in April 2023.
Apple’s Maps for iOS – and now for Macs running OS X Mavericks – still pales in comparison with Google’s offering and will continue to struggle for some time until Apple achieves some sort of feature parity.
Google Maps are not only more accurate, they sport more features that put Google’s rich data sets amassed in years past to good use.
For instance, Google Maps have long had layers, basically objects that consist of one or more separate items that can be manipulated as a single unit.
Traffic, transit, bicycle, weather, clouds, photographs – these are all map layers.
Apple, too, is working on various layers of information for its digital maps offering, but with a twist, a new patent filing published Thursday has indicated…
According to Apple’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office patent filing titled ‘Interactive Map’, the company’s engineers and mapping specialists are researching novel ways to improve upon existing layering solutions by adding data-rich layers which would take into account the context of a current situation and be dependent on nearby points of interests, a user’s location and other criteria.
These layers would use extra information retrieved from the Internet and the system would combine all these resources to provide a unified experience and important pieces of information, all within a single app.
For example, search would produce different results based on the currently select layer.
“For example, if a user were to be in hiking mode, the results for “food” would show camping supply stores, while the same search in tourist mode would display cafes or fine dining,” AppleInsider explains.
Also, geospatial capabilities could be integrated to allow to provide relevant data for a given route, likely stemming from the iOS geofencing capabilities.
As an example, Apple explains that the app could provide contextual information about the history of a location when a user is in tourist mode to compliment an experience.
I also like that dropping a pin would be far more precise versus the current implementation, thanks to a magnifying loupe that would render surrounding street names, places of interest and buildings.
As an example, Apple envisions the weather layer showing that a storm is coming, prompting user to invoke another layer giving the locations of nearby buildings to reach safety.
These layers are highly interactive, Apple writes:
Touching a highway indicator, such as a route number shield, may cause the map to display the locations of fueling stations, hotels and restaurants along the route.
Drawings accompanying the filing suggest several new map modes not present in the currently available Maps implementation, like tourism, commuting, shopping, etc – even temporal statistics like historical housing sales data.
Custom modes would be possible by layering/re-ordering multiple layers.
Another cool example is a shopping mode where the device would show location-special deals and recommendations while a user is inside a retail store or a shopping mall.
The system would likely retrieve this information from iBeacons, Apple’s indoor positioning system deployed at its own stores and by third-party retailers like Macy’s.
In another embodiment, Apple describes creating routes with distance calculations simply by touching two points on a map. The system would then put up the best possible route based on user-defined criteria, such as weather and traffic.
By comparison, the current implementation requires creating a route through through the use of addressed or dropped pins, which is neither user-friendly nor very practical.
Standard caveat applies: most Apple patents never see the light of day.
On the flip side, it should be noted that most of the stuff outlined in this unusually detailed filing sounds very reasonable so there’s a good chance Apple will pursue some of the aforementioned inventions.
And how would you improve Apple Maps?
Microsoft is now rolling out Windows 10 build 17723 for devices enrolled in the Fast ring of the Windows Insider Program. This is the twentieth preview that becomes available as part of the Redstone 5 development, and it includes a new set of enhancements and features expected to arrive in September or October.
Windows 10 Insider Preview build 17723, according to the software maker, uses machine learning to prevent reboots to apply updates while you’re using your device. This flight also delivers improvements for Microsoft Edge, and emoji version 11 arrives to Windows 10 with 157 new emojis.What’s new with Windows 10 build 17723
Here are the changes included in the latest Redstone 5 preview of Windows 10 coming later this year:Windows Update
Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects about Windows 10 is the ability to try to install new updates while you’re working on your computer. Starting with build 17723, if you have an update pending, Windows 10 will use an updated “reboot logic” to be more “adaptive and proactive.” Using cloud machine learning, Microsoft has trained a “predictive model” to accurately predict when is the right time to restart the device.Game bar
In this flight, you can now open the Game bar from the Start menu or using the Windows + G keyboard shortcut.Windows Mixed Reality Microsoft Edge
This flight also introduces several improvements for Microsoft Edge, including Acrylic effect (part of Fluent Design) for the main menu.
The default web browser is getting a few new policies for administrators, including policies to control full-screen mode, printing, favorites bar, and saving history. In addition, you’ll find new Group Policies and MDM settings to prevent certificate error overrides, configure the Home button and startup options, set the New Tab page and Home button URL, and managing extensions.Emoji
In addition, this release also includes tweaks in some of the existing emojis.Time
Starting with this flight, Windows 10 includes support for Leap Second, which allows occasional 1-second adjustments in a traceable and UTC-compliant manner.
This build also includes a new time protocol that delivers far more accurate time samples to the endpoint to display time more accurately. In addition, you can now further improve your network time accuracy by eliminating the software delay introduced by the Windows networking stack.Kiosk
In this Redstone 5 update, the Settings app is making easier to set up devices as kiosk or digital sign devices.
The new page provides a wizard that walks you through the kiosk setup flow including creating a kiosk account that will automatically sign in on device start.
Additionally, Microsoft Edge now works with assigned access which allows administrators to create a tailored browsing experience designed for kiosk devices. Supported kiosk mode include digital and interactive signage, two public browsing modes, and normal mode.Additional improvements
Alongside the numerous tweaks and new features, Windows 10 build 17723 also ships with some additional improvements, including a new icon for the Delivery Optimization Settings page, and some tweaks to the design of the Cortana & Search landing page, specifically in situations where Cortana isn’t enabled or supported.Windows 10 version 1903 (19H1)
Along with build 17723, Microsoft is also releasing Windows 10 build 18204 for devices using the Skip Ahead option. This marks the first preview for the next major release of Windows 10 coming in the first half of 2023.
Currently build 18204 includes all the same changes found in 17723, but eventually, the company will start adding different improvements and features specific for the 19H1 development.
Microsoft is listing the complete set of improvements, fixes, and known issues for Windows 10 Insider Preview build 17713 and build 18204 at the Windows Blog.Downloading Windows 10 build 17723
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Google has announced the release of the first developer preview for Android 11, the earliest preview release of any Android version yet. Since the timeline of the release isn’t that far off from Android 10’s rollout, there aren’t many front-facing feature updates to Android 11. We won’t recommend you install Android 11 right now, but here are some of the top features that have been found from Android 11 so far.
Android 11 DP1 features (Feb 21st)
Bubbles for messaging
Finally…a native screen recorder
While we expected this to come bundled with Android 10, a native screen recorder inside Android is a prospected feature in Android 11 as well. We just hope that Google sticks with the initial plan and keep the feature intact until the stable release. With a screen recorder present natively, we no longer have to worry about using a third-party in fear of compromising your data.
The native screen recording feature will be available inside Quick settings, tapping which you’ll be warned that the system will now have access to the entire screen. You can start recording by tapping Start now at which point a red-colored icon will pop up at the status bar.
Pinning apps to share menu
Android 10 revamped the way you interact with the Share menu and now with Android 11, you can pin the apps that you share the most to the Share menu. This feature will be present in apps that use Android’s native share screen but we can’t say the same about individual share menu inside apps like Google Photos.
You can pin up to 4 apps by long-pressing on an app and tapping Pin; and once you do, the apps that you pinned will pop up first in the share menu. This way you can avoid scrolling through your endless list of apps when sharing something from your phone.
Media controls move into Quick settings
For long, media playback control has been present inside the Notification shade on Android. With priority now given to conversations inside the notifications tray, Google is now about to opt media controls inside the Quick settings area.
When audio is played, the new UI will make sure that the controls to media move to the Quick Settings page. Swiping down once from the top will reveal your Quick Settings tiles as well as the new media control widget. When Quick Settings is fully opened, this media control option is pushed to the bottom portion of the Quick settings page. When media isn’t playing, this option fades away from Quick settings and the option is expected to work with Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora, and more apps.
While we appreciate new features on Android, we’d be happier if the data in our Android device was secure. Last year, Google updated its permissions manager by adding a new “Allow only while in use” access to your apps. The company is now expanding its focus on privacy by bringing one-time permission to Android 11.
With one-time permission, you can now grant an app access to your location, microphone, or camera for only a single time and the moment you move away from the app, the enabled permission will be toggled off. To enable one-time permission in an app, you’ll have to select the “Only this time” option to let the app access to the selected permission this one time.
Scheduled Dark mode
Android 9 brought glimpses of dark mode while Android 10 polished it out. With Android 11, Google is offering a way to schedule the dark theme to turn on and off at certain times during the day.
The feature allows you to set automatic dark mode scheduling at sunrise or sunset or you can set a custom time at which you might way to run on and turn off dark mode.
Airplane mode no longer disconnects Bluetooth devices
We all use Airplane mode from time to time, especially at night but one thing we all hate is when our Bluetooth devices are connected to our phones and switching on Airplane mode disconnects you from networks and Bluetooth devices as well.
With Android 11, you will no longer need to worry about losing connection to your Bluetooth headphones with Airplane mode. You will now be able to leave Bluetooth turned on when enabling airplane mode.
Notification history and a new layout for Notification log
For a long time now, there has been a hidden feature inside Android called Notification log. With Android 11, this section is getting a visual revamp with more content from past notifications, padding between two notifications, and the addition of the app name at the top of each notification.
Inside Notification log, there’s also a toggle to turn ON Notification history. Notification history will show notifications precisely the way they popped up in your Notifications shade under two sections – Recently dismissed and notifications for a certain date.
Screenshots via: XDA (1, 2, 3, 4), 9to5google (1, 2), Android Police (1)
Android 11 DP2 features (March 18th)
In the previous section, we took you through the features that set Android 11 apart. Here, we’ll give you a rundown of the features that Google’s been adding with each Developer Preview and Beta rollouts.
Eyes open while unlocking
The Pixel 4 devices have finally gotten a toggle that’d require the user to keep their eyes open while using Face Unlock. You’ll need to go to Face Unlock settings to access the newly-added toggle.
New notification shade UI
Google has been working quite extensively on the notification shade UI this time around, and the Developer Preview 2 only pushes effort forward. The spacing between notification cards has been increased, arguably to improve readability. It may not look attractive at first but, it does give the devices a more easy-going look.
Hide silent notifications
Silent notifications or passive notifications may not draw your attention, but it still eats up a bit of your status bar real estate. Now, you have the option to make sure it doesn’t. Simply head over to Notifications — under settings — to hide silent notifications. They’d still live in your notification shade, but you’d at least get a cleaner status bar.
New screen recorder UI
As you’ve already discovered, Android 11 comes with a native screen recorder. Developer Preview 2 polishes the highly-anticipated feature by giving you the option to show on-screen touches, record through your microphone, and introducing a pre-recording timer. The overall stability has also been improved.
Notification history shortcut
If you’re one of those people who swipe away important notifications and then have a hard time recalling them, this one’s bound to put a smile on your face. By tapping on the new History shortcut under the notification shade, you can see all your previous notifications — with time — under one little subsection.
Android 11 Developer Preview 2 brings an option to mark your notifications as important. After marking as important — press and hold a notification — notifications from that source will pop up at the top of your notification shade. You’ll also get a separate notification icon on your status bar.
New styles and wallpapers have been added under Pixel themes. However, you’ll only get one clock preset for your lock screen.
Android 11 DP3 features (April 23rd)
Google released the third installment of Android 11 Developer Preview in late April, bringing new features and giving us a slight idea of what’s to come with the first Android 11 beta build. Here are a few user-centric features that line up with the Android 11 DP3 release.
Automatically revoke permissions given to an app
Since Android 9, Google has remained focused on maintaining users’ privacy and security. With Android 11 DP3, the Mountain View has added a way for Android to revoke permissions for app that you might have given access to in the past. If the feature is made available to official Android 11 update, users will have a way to automatically revoke such permissions if the app hasn’t been used for a “few months”. The feature will work similarly to how the Bouncer app works on older Android versions.
A refreshed Recent apps UI
The Recents screen is getting a fresh design and on first glance, you’d notice that the screen will no longer feature the recently used row of apps at the bottom. Instead, you’ll see a larger preview of apps in the background and two new shortcuts – ‘Screenshot’ and ‘Share’. While the former takes a screenshot of the current screen, the latter takes one and directly opens the Share menu so that you can send it to apps.
Undo closing an app from Recents section
Another small change with the new Recent apps UI has been the ability to bring back an app that just closed from the Recents screen. Google has added a new swipe gesture on the Recent apps screen where you can swipe from top to bottom to bring back the app that you last swiped up to close. The ability to undo closing an app could possibly be limited to one app and should work for a few seconds before the app actually closes.
Adjust back gesture sensitivity for both sides of the screen
Android 10 made gesture navigation smoother than ever by giving you the ability to swipe from either sides of the screen to go back. You could already adjust the sensitivity of the back gesture but with Android 11 DP3, you’ll be able to adjust it for both sides of the screen individually.
Screenshots preview in the bottom left corner with ‘quick shortcuts’
With Android 11 DP3, when you take screenshots, a preview of the screenshot will be shown on the bottom left corner with ‘Share’ and ‘Edit’ options beside it. You will be able to dismiss the screenshot by tapping the ‘X’ button on the top right corner of the screenshot.
Dismiss all alerts and notifications
Users should be able to dismiss all alerts and notification on the next version of Android, if the Android 11 DP3 is to be believed. Previously, Android didn’t allow you to dismiss ongoing notifications to keep apps running in the background. Now, you can swipe away any notification even if it’s from an ongoing app or an alert to remove it from the Notifications drawer.
Use ADB commands wirelessly to debug your phone
If you’re someone who uses ADB commands to unlock experimental features on your phone, then you’ll be glad that with Android 11 DP3, you will be able to debug your Android phone wirelessly. You can enable wireless debugging and connect your Android device to your computer using a WiFi network without plugging in the data cable.
Screenshots via: XDA(1,2,3), 9to5Google (1,2,3)
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