Context Pervades the Smartphone

Personalizing results is all about context – where you are, what you looked at before, and probably several other factors, which Google NOW is determined to identify. This is especially true for activity on the smartphone. And it’s not just Google – it’s in apps, in the fitbit you wear, Facebook, everything – as you will read in this article.

The Future Of Search Engines Is Context, Aaron Friedman, Search Engine Land (April 6)

Rove with TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor users will have new tools for keeping a travel journal through TripAdvisor’s acquisition of ZeTrip and the Rove app.

TripAdvisor Buys ZeTrip And Its Personal Travel Journal App Rove, Ingrid Lunden, TechCrunch (Feb 2)

While TripAdvisor is not being very specific about how it might use Rove’s technology, the acquisition comes at an interesting time in mobile location-based services. Facebook last week launched a new feature for app users called “Place Tips”, which pushes friends’ tips and insights about locations that you are visiting. It’s a direct competitor to Yelp and Foursquare/Swarm, and comes at the same time that the latter has tapped into passive services itself, picking up users’ location information and pushing suggestions to you without them having to make any effort.

The Growing Importance of Mobile

Google gives sites that are mobile friendly a ranking boost in search results.

Google Is Experimenting With Special Ranking For Mobile-Friendly Sites, Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (Nov 18)

Google already penalizes sites that provide a bad experience to mobile searchers. Now the company has confirmed that it’s testing with what seems like a boost for those providing a great experience.

This is good, but it is also part of the trend that makes mobile access to the web more important than desktop. Wall Street Journal has noted that The Web Is Dying; Apps Are Killing It by Phil Foster (Nov 17)

Mountains of data tell us that, in aggregate, we are spending time in apps that we once spent surfing the Web. We’re in love with apps, and they’ve taken over. On phones, 86% of our time is spent in apps, and just 14% is spent on the Web, according to mobile-analytics company Flurry.

Firefox at 10

Mozilla’s Firefox browser is nearly 10 years old. In 2004 the one to beat was Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. That’s done. Now the challenge is to counter Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android

Ten years in, Firefox fights on — now against Google and Apple by Stephen Shankland, CNet (Nov 10)

Instead of just taking on a browser, Mozilla now is competing against two operating systems, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Mozilla’s alternative is Firefox OS, a browser-based operating system. The goal remains the same, though: give people choice about what technology they use on the Internet and give them control over their data.

It might be a rough road: mobile usage is increasing rapidly, and Firefox’s share of that market is very small. It’s become a matter of operating systems. Here’s hoping for a Firefox OS.

More tips from MES

Mary Ellen Bates had more super-searcher tools and tips for attendees at Internet Librarian 2014. @mebs #internetlibrarian Good reminder that changing position of search terms does make a difference – to which I will add, it can even make a difference in getting a Knowledge nugget. There are several hacking-type of tips using advanced search operators – good to know. And a message for users of Android and iOS devices – look into Google Now – it can anticipate your needs, as Bates shows.

Pocket for reader gatherers

If you are a gatherer of pieces on the Web to read later, Pocket may be the tool for you – desktop and mobile.  And, you can gather even more by connecting it to  IFTTT (If This, Then That)

The service lets you bookmark anything on the Web; articles are stored in your personal library, where they can be easily located and read when it’s most convenient. It doesn’t matter if you have a connection either, as Pocket can download (almost) everything to your device automatically.

The in-depth guide to using Pocket by Nick Summers, The Next Web (Oct 20)

Conversational search when travelling

Use Google app on your smart phone or tablet to find restaurants and bars nearby. Great for dinner reservations.  Works in Toronto. Just say – show restaurants near my home – and presto, Google gives map, names, and addresses.

Google Upgrades Conversational Search On Its Mobile Apps, Matt McGee, Search Engine Land (Oct 9)

Basically, the app is smarter about knowing where you are (at a hotel, for example), letting you complete actions by voice (i.e., making reservations via OpenTable), getting directions as part of the ongoing conversation you’re having with the app and getting reminders.