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7 helpful ways to use Google Now on Tap

Among the new features announced with the current version of Android last year was Google Now on Tap, an extension of Google Now and Google search to practically every possible screen on your smartphone.

While the feature was received with quite a bit of fanfare, it’s not always as practical as Google would have you believe. It’s very hit or miss. Often giving you no useful search cards when you would expect it to.

However, there are some situations where Google Now on Tap shines and makes what would normally be a multistep process just a tap or click away. Here’s how to get the most out of Google Now on Tap.

Find out when your favorite band is playing
With Google Now on Tap, you can quickly check for upcoming shows or concerts by long-pressing the home button when listening to an artist in a music app like Google Play Music or Spotify, or while viewing their Facebook page. Once the card for the band or artist appears, scroll all the way to the right. If upcoming tour dates are available, you will see an option called Events. Tap this to icon to bring up more information.

Find a music video for a song
If you’re listening to a specific song in a music app, bringing up Google Now on Tap will provide quite a bit of information on both the band and song. If there’s one available, it will also provide a direct link to the official music video on YouTube. When you tap this icon, YouTube will launch, the video will load and it will begin playing.

Create a calendar event
If you’re trying to make plans with friends, queueing up Google Now on Tap will suggest creating a new event in your calendar. If you tap the card, your default calendar will open, jump to creating a new event and input the details discovered by Google Now. Tweak the information (such as location and time) and save the event.

Get more information on news stories
If you keep seeing the same story pop up in your news feeds and you don’t know the backstory, you can quickly find it with Google Now on Tap, which is surprisingly great and providing some context on different stories, people, events and more.

Check package tracking
Google Now will automatically track packages for you as it finds valid tracking numbers in your inbox. However, if you’re viewing a tracking number on a website or a friend sends you a tracking number in a chat, you can quickly track the package without having to copy and paste the tracking number. Instead, just summon Google Now on Tap and tap Track [carrier] Package.

Search for product reviews
Amazon product reviews aren’t always the most reliable or trustworthy writings. Often, old Amazon listings get repurposed for new (and sometimes completely unrelated) products by the same company. The issue of paid or incentivized reviews also exists, and some reviews just aren’t reliable.

Place dinner reservations
If you’re on the Facebook page of a restaurant, someone mentions it in a chat or you’re on their website but can’t find a way to book a reservation, make sure you have the OpenTable app installed on your Android device and long press on the home button. If the restaurant is available on OpenTable, you can also then jump into booking a reservation from Google Now on Tap.

Source: CNet, Article by Taylor Martin (http://www.cnet.com/how-to/7-helpful-ways-to-use-google-now-on-tap/)

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How Designing For The Disabled Is Giving Google An Edge

According to Andersson, accessibility is part of Google’s core mission to catalog the world’s information and make it available to everyone. As you speak to her, a point she hammers home over and over again is that inclusive design means more than just hacking an app or product so that people with disabilities can use it. It’s something that benefits literally everyone.

In a way, Andersson argues, the accessibility problems of today are the mainstream breakthroughs of tomorrow. Autocomplete and voice control are two technologies we take for granted now that started as features aimed at helping disabled users use computers, for example. So what are the accessibility problems Google has its eyes on now, and what mainstream breakthroughs could they lead to tomorrow?

Teaching AIs How to Notice, Not Just See

Like Microsoft, which recently announced a computer vision-based accessibility project called Seeing AI, Google’s interested in how to convey visual information to blind users through computer vision and natural language processing. And like Microsoft, Google is dealing with the same problems: How do you communicate that information without just reading out loud an endless stream-of-conscious list of what a computer sees around itself—regardless of how trivial they may or may not be?

Thanks to Knowledge Graph and machine learning—the same principles that Google uses to let you search photos by content —Andersson says that Google is already good enough at identifying objects to decode them from a video stream in real time. So a blind user wearing a Google Glass-like wearable, or a body cam hooked up to a smartphone, could get real-world updates on what can be seen around them.

But again, the big accessibility problem that needs to be solved here is one of priority. How does a computer decide what’s important? We’re constantly seeing all sorts of objects we’re not consciously aware of until some switch flips in our heads that tells us they’re important. We might not notice the traffic driving by until one of those cars jumps the curb and starts speeding toward us, or we might not notice any of the faces of the people in a crowd except that of a close friend’s. In other words, our brains have a subconscious filter, prioritizing what we notice from the infinitely larger pool of what we see.

Right now, “no one has solved the importance problem,” Andersson says. To solve it means figuring out a way to teach computers to not only recognize objects but to prioritize them according to rules about safety, motion, and even user preferences. “Not all blind people are the same,” Andersson points out. “Some people want to know what everyone around them is wearing, while others might want to know what all the signs around them say.”

As Google develops ever-more-powerful AI, a time may come when computer vision replaces human sight. That day isn’t here yet, but Andersson points out that any work done on computer vision for accessibility projects will have a clear impact upon the field of robotics, and vice versa. The robots of the future might be able to “see” because of the accessibility work done in computer vision for blind people today.

Non-Language Processing

Much has been made recently of Google’s advances in natural language processing, or Google’s ability to understand and transcribe human speech. Google’s accessibility efforts lean heavily upon natural language processing, particularly its latest innovation, Voice Access. But Andersson says computers need to understand more than just speech. Forget natural language processing: computers need non-language processing.

There’s no technical reason machine learning can’t be turned on the task of understanding more than just speech, says Andersson. But machine-learning neural networks, like the ones driving Google’s computer vision efforts, depend on vast data sets for training. For example, for Google Photos to learn what it was looking at in a particular photograph, it had to train on a massive database of millions of images, each of which had been individually tagged and captioned by researchers. A similar data set was used for Google’s natural language processing efforts, but Andersson says there’s just no comparable data set that currently exists to teach neural networks how to decode non-speech audio.

Andersson wouldn’t say if Google was currently trying to build such a database. But the usefulness of non-language processing goes way beyond accessibility. For example, YouTube can already auto-caption the speech in a video; mastering non-language processing could help it caption the sound effects, too.

Taking Navigation Beyond Google Maps

Sighted users are so used to taking directions from computers that many people can barely find their way around without first plugging an address into Waze. But moving sighted individuals from point A to point B, across well-plotted roads and highways, is navigation on macro scale. Things get much more complicated when you’re trying to direct a blind person down a busy city street, or from one store to another inside a shopping mall. Now, you’re directing people on a macro scale, but in an environment that is not as well understood or documented as roads are.

Google’s already working on technology to help address this problem, says Andersson. For example, Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Group (or ATAP) has Project Tango, a platform which uses computer vision to understand your position within a three-dimensional space. Before Project Tango, Google could detect a user’s position in the world using all sorts of technologies—GPS, Wi-Fi triangulation, and beacons, among them—but none of them were precise enough for reliable accessibility use. For example, your smartphone’s GPS might place you 30 feet or more away from where you actually are. Not a big deal if you’re driving to the movies in your car, but a huge problem if you’re a blind person trying to find a bathroom at the airport.

But while Project Tango is an important step in the right direction for using computer vision as a navigation tool, more needs to be done, says Andersson. Indoors, Google needs to collect a lot more data about internal spaces. And everywhere, a lot of the problems that still need answering are UX problems. For example, let’s say you need to direct a blind person to walk 50 feet in a straight line: How do you communicate to him or her what a foot is? Or think of this another way. You know how your GPS will tell you when you’re driving to “turn left in 1,000 feet?” Even when you can see, it’s hard to estimate how far you’ve gone. Now imagine doing it with your eyes closed.

But these problems are all solvable. And when they are, like most accessibility advancements, they will have obvious benefits even to those without disabilities. After all, how often have you needed precise directions to find your car in a packed airport parking lot? “I’m passionate about accessibility, not just because I believe in a level playing field,” says Andersson. “But because [inclusive design] makes life more livable for everyone.”

Source: Fast Co.desing, Article by John Brownlee (http://www.fastcodesign.com/3060090/how-designing-for-the-disabled-is-giving-google-an-edge)

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3 Things Modern Shoppers Are Looking for in an Online Store

Each line of work changes over time and there are always new trends to follow if you want your business to grow. A great shift has occurred in the past decade and retailers are starting to notice a great change in customer behaviour. In order to be able to keep up with the competition, it is very important to stay up to date with the newest customer behavioural trends.

The greatest cause of this behaviour is the wide utilization of the internet. This also accounts for a variety of products that are offered online.

Research

This is the key factor that differentiates modern customers from customers who shopped two decades ago. People always managed to find information about a product in the past, however, the main source of that information came from the retailer. Nowadays, the web is full of reviews and recommendations by both experts and customers on a variety of products and services. This has enabled the modern buyer to become well informed before purchasing a product.

According to these facts, there are many steps that businesses now take in order to improve their sales. The best starting point is to create high quality content on your blog. Establishing one creates several advantages for an online store.

The store’s blog is a perfect marketing tool, as it improves SEO optimization of the whole website. This is very important for achieving consistent passive traffic to your online store, as a lot of people find products by using a variety of search engines.
The fact that you are creating high quality content means that you are offering valuable and helpful content for your customers. This can lower the bounce rate of your online store and it creates a certain level of trust between your customer and your brand.
Quality content also creates higher conversion rate, which increases the profit margins for your business.
Reaching out to professional reviewers is a good way to improve your marketing strategy even further. Another way is to read reviews from real customers that both use and own the product.

Mobile technologies

Our lives have changed as smartphones and tablets become extremely popular. The popularisation of these gadgets also changed the way consumers look for goods. People nowadays utilise mobile devices much more than laptops or PCs. The important fact is that almost half of the users turn to search engines to find the product they are interested in. A majority of the other half directly searches for the retailer’s official application, while a small percentage relies on other sources such as discount voucher code sites, comparison sites and cashback sites.

This type of data clearly shows how important it is to, first of all, optimise the store for mobile devices. Only a couple of years ago, mobile optimisation could have been a little bit neglected, but nowadays, this is an essential move that you should take if you want your online store to bloom.

Creating your own application might require an additional financial investment, however, it offers a great advantage in several ways.
It improves brand awareness and creates yet another layer of trust between your business and the customer.
As you provide another way for users to reach your business, having your own application will further increase conversion rates.
It is very important to attract customers to your store from a variety of sources. Having an application is the perfect way to diversify your customer acquisition tactics.

Features do matter

Store design plays a very important factor in customer satisfaction. Many people simply decide to leave due to poor design and a bad navigation system. The customer expects something eye catching. It is expected that there is detailed information about the product and that the price is stated clearly, next to the product image.

The product should be captured and presented with a high quality image, with the possibility to zoom the image. Additionally, customers expect free shipping more than ever, as it can add quite a lot of cost to the whole bill. One of the features that are always expected is the search function, as it makes the navigation process much easier.

Enabling these little features is very important, as they ensure a complete online convenience for the customers and each of the mentioned features increases the chance of creating returning customers.

These are the main things that are expected from online stores. Creating a flawless experience for customers is the best way to ensure that they are actually going to purchase goods from you and come back in the future. Achieving all these things might be hard, but if you put in a lot of effort and take the right steps, it is certain that success and business growth will await at the end of the journey.

 
Source: Business 2 Community. Article by Muhammad Azam (http://www.business2community.com/ecommerce/3-things-modern-shoppers-looking-online-store-01527017#vtlFmpEvLRXkEMDl.99)

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How To Effectively Persuade Your Mobile Users To Convert On Your Content

Mobile devices have done far more than streamline the way that people communicate. They’ve revolutionized the world.

The surge in mobile usage over the past few years has also presented digital marketers with a wealth of opportunities when they know how to capitalize on it. But, how can you make your content appealing, actionable, and directed towards that mobile user?

To put some perspective on the state of mobile, it’s helpful to examine some stats pertaining to usage and the money being spent on mobile marketing.

  • As of 2015, 65 percent of Americans owned a smartphone.
  • Around the world, there are nine new mobile phone users every second.
  • $35.55 billion was spent on mobile advertising worldwide in 2015.
  • That number is predicted to increase to $47.16 billion by the end of 2016 and $59.67 billion by 2017.
  • Most people’s smartphones are never more than three feet away from them.

The Psychology of Mobile Content

In order to get the type of conversion rate you’re looking for, you have to understand the subtle differences between a mobile-engaged mind and a desktop-engaged mind.

Yahoo recently found mobile ads achieve a more emotional response than traditional television spots. Millennials in particular were found to be the most responsive to mobile advertising. Facebook research echoes this, saying people are more attentive when consuming media on mobile devices and feel more positively toward the information presented on a smartphone.

But to capitalize on this deeper level of engagement, it’s crucial that you create a seamless user experience and eliminate any obstacles that could get in the way of making a conversion.

Whether it’s a macro conversion where a consumer is making a purchase, or a micro conversion such as downloading an app or subscribing to an email list, you must streamline the process and prevent any barriers that could reduce your conversion rate.

With that being said, here are some specific ways to accomplish this.

Use the Right Font Size

One of the most essential elements of a mobile-friendly experience is the right font size. Make it too small, and it can be illegible. Make it too large, and it can be equally as frustrating for mobile users.

Perhaps the most effective way to ensure the right font size is to simply implement responsive web design, which provides a seamless experience regardless of the screen size.

Eliminate Distractions

Less is definitely more when it comes to mobile marketing. The busier your content is, the less likely you are to make conversions. That’s why you should make it a point to not overwhelm users with excessive content.

Simply pinpoint what specific action you’re wanting users to complete and zero in on it. Then make it as simple as possible by eliminating distractions (e.g. remove needless images or excessive links).

Use Pop-ups

There’s plenty of evidence that suggests that pop-ups can indeed be effective for increasing conversions. Using pop-ups for good rather than evil is simply a means of being smart about it and not annoying the pants off of your users. By this, I mean following a few key techniques:

  • Wait five to 10 seconds before displaying a pop-up to give users a chance to catch their breath, or use a scrolling-triggered pop-up.
  • Keep offers simple.
  • Only display highly relevant offers/content.
  • Perform split testing to determine which pop-ups are getting optimal results.

Reaching mobile users should be a top priority in 2016, more so than reaching desktop users. But getting favorable conversions requires you to first understand the psychology of a mobile-engaged user and adapt accordingly.

By reducing friction on the user’s end and effectively displaying your offers, it’s reasonable to expect a higher conversion rate, while at the same time minimizing any frustration for users.

Source: Forbes, Article by Neil Patel (http://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2016/04/25/how-to-effectively-persuade-your-mobile-users-to-convert-on-your-content/#d78475a34d16)

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