Five things worth sharing from the last week or so, brought to you by a different member of the Browser Media team every Friday.
This week’s My Five is by Matt.
1. Google steps into the wearable tech game
Earlier this month Google announced its acquisition of Fitbit, the wearable technology company most well known for its fitness trackers and smartwatches.
Naturally, given Google’s thirst for user data, the response to the acquisition has been largely cynical; Google having access to the health and wellness data of 28 million users is a terrifying prospect for a lot of people.
Despite Google explicitly stating that it would not be using health data harvested from Fitbit devices for Google Ads, not everyone is convinced. Paul Bischoff, privacy advocate at Comparitech.com, said: “Fitbit says health and wellness data will not be used for advertising, but that leaves plenty of other information for Google to gather, including users’ locations, device info, friends’ lists, messages, profile photos, participation in employee wellness programs, and usage logs.”
“That being said, Fitbit was already using this information for marketing, advertising, and analytics purposes. The main difference here is just that Google now has all that data instead of just Fitbit.”
2. Facebook becomes… FACEBOOK
Amid antitrust inquiries and a general downward trend in reputation, Facebook, the social network everyone loves to hate, is rebranding to, FACEBOOK.
The new all-caps logo is being rolled out across the likes of Instagram and WhatsApp to in an attempt to increase transparency and consistency. The logo will take on different colours depending on which product it represents, for example, the Facebook app and website will retain the familiar blue branding, while Instagram will take on a red/orange colour.
Facebook’s chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio said: “People should know which companies make the products they use. We started being clearer about the products and services that are part of Facebook years ago.
“This brand change is a way to better communicate our ownership structure to the people and businesses who use our services to connect, share, build community and grow their audiences.”
3. Spotify for kids
Spotify is launching a new app especially for kids, called, ingeniously, Spotify Kids. In recognition of a growing number of children consuming audio content, be that music or stories, the new app is designed to allow safe listening in an easy to use, fun, ad-free environment.
As a dad of two increasingly media-curious daughters, this is music to my ears (or should that be their ears?) My kids love music but letting them loose on my personal Spotify account presents obvious problems regarding the age-appropriateness of the content, not to mention the damage playing the Moana soundtrack on loop does to my ‘Made for you’ recommendations.
The Spotify Kids beta launch is rolling out in Ireland now and will be availible in all markets that have Premium Family in the coming months. Stay tuned.
4. Go fast or go home
There are many factors that can determine the performance of a website, not least the speed at which it loads. In an effort to help site owners gain more visibility over their site’s performance in the speed department, Google is now showing Speed reports in Search Console, for both desktop and mobile.
The Speed report automatically assigns groups of similar URLs into “Fast”, “Moderate”, and “Slow” buckets, with data taken from the Chrome User Experience Report, which provides metrics for how real-world Chrome users experience popular destinations on the web.
Using this information, site owners can see how their properties are performing on the whole, and what types of URLs are doing better than others. However, anyone looking for some deeper page speed insight, specific snagging points, or suggestions for fixes will need to head over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool or similar.
5. New Twitter features incoming (maybe)
Earlier this week, Twitter’s VP of Design and Research, Dantley Davis, announced a bunch of potential new features for 2020.
Features that I’m looking forward to in 2020.
– Remove me from this conversation
– Don’t allow RT of this tweet
– Don’t allow people to @mention me without my permission
– Remove this @mention from this conversation
– Tweet this only to: hashtag, interest, or these friends
— Dantley Davis (@dantley) November 5, 2019
If true, these could have a big impact on the way users interact on the platform. But would they all be good? As some users in the replies have pointed out, a lot of these features could eliminate conversations, rather than encourage them.
It’s an interesting thread that also raises some important questions regarding Twitter’s responsibility to tackle abusive behaviour at the root. As @fluxistrad points out, “More user control is great, and this is an awesome list, but lack of features isn’t the problem we’re trying to solve, right? We’d just be making users even more responsible for protecting themselves as opposed to, you know.”
I’m all for new features, just so long as there are no plans to introduce an edit button, which worryingly, a lot of users seem quite keen on. I can’t imagne why.
That’s all for this week, have a great weekend!