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A brief summary of Apple announcements of 2017

(TECH NEWS) Apple has had a big year of announcements and we’ve still got six months left. Here’s what they’ve announced so far.

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Apple is doin’ things

In the wake of Apple’s developer conference announcements, we have some substantial insights into the direction the company is headed. That matters a lot, because of the cultural stronghold Apple possesses in the tech space.

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We’ve dug up all of Apple’s significant technology announcements through the current year (WWDC announcements included) to see what patterns we can see:

Apple receives patent approval for fingerprint biometrics reader

March, 2017
With this patented technology, Apple could authenticate users from the actual screen, rather than just the home button. This could also increase the users for fingerprint authentication in areas like downloading apps from the Apple Store, or making online purchases.

Apple announces Clips, an expressive video app

March 21, 2017
This native Apple app lets users augment videos using photos, music, animated captions and other fun graphic overlays. It’s clear from the developments of Snapchat and Instagram that users like creating these kinds of videos, and as a company known for its creative potential, it’s wise for Apple to have its own space in this area.

Apple announces iPad updates

March 21, 2017
Not much exciting to report here, other than the Retina display upgrade. We’ll see more exciting updates to the iPad Pro. More on that later.

Apple acquire Lattice Data

May, 2017
Apple acquired this startup, which specialized in artificial intelligence and data, earlier this year. The company hasn’t specified why they acquired them, but given other announcements, there’s solid evidence to support that Apple wants to invest and innovate in this area.

Apple and Nokia settle litigation issues, sign partnership agreement

May 27, 2017
According to Apple’s press release, “Nokia will be providing certain network infrastructure product and services to Apple. Apple will resume carrying Nokia digital health products (formerly under the Withings brand) in Apple retail and online stores, and Apple and Nokia are exploring future collaboration in digital health initiatives.” We could see this reflected in new technology and accessories to accompany the Apple Watch, outside of the updates revealed at WWDC.

Apple announces changes to Apple Pay

June 5, 2017
In order to compete with Venmo and Paypal, Apple announced a peer-to-peer money transfer feature in Apple Pay. These changes will be a part of the iOS 11 rollout.

Apple announces iPad Pro and iOS 11

June 5, 2017
-With the announcement of their new iPad and operating system, Apple seeks to make the iPad a high-performance machine. Changes to the display tech and processor chip, along with deeper integration of the Apple Pen, suggest that this iPad wants to be more appealing to the hustling creatives and the multimedia carnivores.

Apple announced iOS 11

June 5, 2017
With the launch of their latest operating system update, Apple wants to beef up the iPad functionality. Most notably, this software updates allows for better multi-tasking and file storage management on the iPad, making it more effective as a professional creative tool.

What’s even more notable is the following line from the press release: “Augmented reality is coming to hundreds of millions of iOS devices with a new platform for developers to build apps that let users place virtual content on top of real-world scenes.”

Apple announces HomePod

June 5, 2017
Apple’s version of the wireless speaker builds on the fully integrated Apple system. The speaker also integrates some unique smart technology by using “spatial awareness to sense its location in a room and automatically adjust the audio.” According to Apple’s own press release, you can also use Siri to interact with your Apple library through the speaker.

Apple launches new VR Platform

June 5, 2017
Apple’s new augmented reality platform ARKit is pretty cool itself, but even cooler is what its launch implies: Apple has unleashed some truly cutting edge tech. That cutting edge tech, with a little more development, could open the door for virtual reality.

Apple announces iMac Pro

June 5, 2017
This new Mac is a big step into the enterprise-level market. Thanks to upgrades in the display, processors and graphic computations, the iMac Pro is well-built for “advanced graphics editing, virtual reality content creation and real-time 3D rendering.” We’ve talked before about how Apple is losing its grip over the creative industry, and with these steps, it seems like the company is trying to get ahead of the curve again.

Apple announces new macOS High Sierra

June 5, 2017
The most notable update here is the update to Metal, Apple’s proprietary graphics technology. This tech powers machine learning, VR content creation and everything in between. Many apps, like Final Cut Pro, Epic and Unity will be able to support VR and 360 video functionality with these upgrades. Combined with the iMac Pro appointments, we can confirm that Apple is building its devices for some next-generation media development.

Apple announces iMac upgrades

June 5, 2017
The new iMacs touts an upgraded Retina display, processor, and memory and graphics performance. Not much exciting here, but it is a significant way to support the tech that High Sierra brings to the table.

Apple revises App Store experience

June 5, 2017
This redesign puts content and expertise front and center of the app store experience, in order to make it easier than before to discover apps. First and foremost, app store visitors can view the Today tab to find features and interviews about apps and app developers. Games and Apps also have their own discover tabs as well.

Apple announces watchOS 4

June 5, 2017
The newest update to the Apple Watch operating system touts a new app called GymKit, which can connect with cardio equipment to run workouts for Watch users. It also increases the incorporation of Siri into the watch so that users can see the information they need the most right when they look at the watch. Finally, Apple optimized the Activity app for daily and monthly activity challenges, to make the Apple Watch a smarter coach for you

Apple allows Amazon Prime Video App on Apple TV

June 5, 2017
After a feud between the two companies, Apple will augment the functionality of its TV app and Apple TV by adding the Prime Video App. This will keep Apple TV competitive with services like Roku and the rest of the TV streaming market.

So, what do we make of all this?

Apple is clearly betting big-time on the future of media, such as AR, VR and 360 video. Between the OS updates and improved graphics capabilities, the company wants to make its devices competitive for this new content creation process.

In other areas, there is a surprising amount of catch-up playing out.

Clips makes Apple a “me three” player in the expressive video game, and HomePod only half addresses Apple’s need for a product to compete with Google and Amazon’s virtual assistants. It will be interesting to see how Apple’s digital health initiative and AI initiatives shape up with their new partnerships and acquisitions.

One thing’s for sure; Apple is still keeping things interesting.

#Apple

Born in Boston and raised in California, Connor arrived in Texas for college and was (lovingly) ensnared by southern hospitality and copious helpings of queso. As an SEO professional, he lives and breathes online marketing and its impact on businesses. His loves include disc-related sports, a pint of a top-notch craft beer, historical non-fiction novels, and Austin's live music scene.

Tech News

Microsoft to become 3rd largest gaming company after Blizzard acquisition

(TECHNOLOGY) Microsoft will not be left behind in the Metaverse. The tech giant plans to fully acquire Activision Blizzard by 2023 for $68.7 billion cash.

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Microsoft announced plans to acquire the video game publisher, Activision Blizzard, on January 18, 2022, in an all-cash transaction reported to be valued at $68.7 billion.

The deal gives the tech giant popular game franchises, such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and many more to add to its arsenal. This acquisition sets Microsoft up to be the third-largest gaming company by revenue.  Microsoft expects the deal to close in the 2023 fiscal year (which begins in July of this calendar year) once the customary closing conditions have been completed along with the regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval. Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard’s board of directors have already approved the deal.

This deal comes in hot on the heels of an avalanche of issues surrounding sexual harassment where 37 employees have reportedly left Activision Blizzard according to this article on The Verge. Microsoft states that Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.

Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, posted both Activision and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently until the deal is complete with Activision Blizzard then all business will be reported to Spencer.

“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community, and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive, and accessible to all.”

Maybe you noticed the not-so-subtle hint regarding the Metaverse by Microsoft’s chairman and CEO Satya Nadella, but it seems everyone is quick to mention to the public and or other companies listening that they are gearing up to bring their A-game to the Metaverse. Whatever that ends up being.

In the meantime, we can predict some of the possible changes to come from this buyout. Microsoft currently has Game Pass, their subscription-based model for Xbox, which recently hit 25 million subscribers. Now’s the time to sign up for the Game Pass subscription before prices go up to match the revamped gaming inventory. Microsoft could potentially lock down new releases and not deliver them on other platforms, i.e., PlayStation, giving them exclusivity and driving subscription sign-ups.

Whatever ends up happening, Microsoft is making big moves to not be left behind in the gaming world or the Metaverse.

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Tech News

Want to save snippets of a Zoom meeting? Listener makes it possible!

(TECHNOLOGY) Listener lets you screenshot or bookmark important sections of live meetings, as well as curate a playlist of snippets, to share or playback.

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Listener for Zoom tool landing page on laptop.

We live in a very computer-mediated world where the bulk of communication is done virtually. Many of us spend a great deal of time – whether for work or pleasure – on video calls connecting with people that we’re unable to meet with in person.

Zoom became the unofficial mascot for the pandemic and has shown no signs of going anywhere. So naturally, people are looking for ways to put this to even more of an advantage – like by creating messaging extensions to utilize in lieu of live meetings.

Now the folks behind Listener are getting in on the action by creating Listener for Zoom.

The new tool allows users to bookmark important moments of Zoom calls in real-time and easily turn long recordings into bite-sized video clips.

As founder Nishith Shah puts it, “Zoom meetings just got more productive!”

Listener allows users to do a myriad of things, including live bookmarking to create short video clips; ability to transcribe your entire meeting; edit video clips by using transcripts instead of struggling with video editing tools; share video highlights with your team; create playlists from video highlights across different Zoom meetings to tell powerful stories; use projects to organize your meetings and playlists.

Founders say that Listener is designed for pretty much anyone who uses Zoom. In early testing, the founders found that it is especially helpful for product managers and UX researchers who do customer interviews.

They also reported that early-stage founders have been using Listener to add powerful customer videos to their investor pitch decks. It is also helpful for recruiters and hiring managers who search transcripts across hundreds of hiring interviews to remember who said what and to pass on important clips to other people in the interview process.

The tool is also beneficial for teams and hiring, as customer success and sales teams create a knowledge base with Listener to train and onboard new employees. They also use it to pass on customer feedback to the product teams.

This could also be great for clipping video elements that are appropriate for social media use.

On January 11, 2022, Listener was awarded #3 Product of the Day on Product Hunt.

Listener for Zoom is free while in Beta. The tool works only with licensed (paid) Zoom accounts.

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Opinion Editorials

Job listings are popping up left and right, so what exactly *is* UX writing?

(EDITORIAL) While UX writing is not technically new, it is seemingly becoming more and more prevalent. The job titles are everywhere, so what is it?

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UX writing

The work of a UX writer is something you come across every day. Whether you’re hailing an Uber or browsing Spotify for that one Drake song, your overall user experience is affected by the words you read at each touchpoint.

A UX writer facilitates a smooth interaction between user and product at each of these touchpoints through carefully chosen words.

Some of the most common touchpoints these writers work on are interface copy, emails, and notifications. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling stuff, but imagine using your favorite apps without all the thoughtful confirmation messages we take for granted. Take Eat24’s food delivery app, instead of a boring loading visual, users get a witty message like “smoking salmon” or “slurping noodles.”

Eat24’s app has UX writing that works because it’s engaging.

Xfinity’s mobile app provides a pleasant user experience by being intuitive. Shows that are available on your phone are clearly labeled under “Available Out of Home.” I’m bummed that Law & Order: SVU isn’t available, but thanks to thoughtful UX writing at least I knew that sad fact ahead of time.

Regardless of where you find these writer’s work, there are three traits an effective UX writer must-have. Excellent communication skills are a must. The ability to empathize with the user is on almost every job post. But from my own experience working with UX teams, I’d argue for the ability to advocate as the most important skill.

UX writers may have a very specialized mission, but they typically work within a greater user experience design team. In larger companies, some UX writers even work with a smaller team of fellow writers. Decisions aren’t made in isolation. You can be the wittiest writer, with a design decision based on obsessive user research, but if you can’t advocate for those decisions then what’s the point?

I mentioned several soft skills, but that doesn’t mean aspiring UX writers can’t benefit from developing a few specific tech skills. While the field doesn’t require a background in web development, UX writers often collaborate with engineering teams. Learning some basic web development principles such as responsive design can help writers create a better user experience across all devices. In a world of rapid prototyping, I’d also suggest learning a few prototyping apps. Several are free to try and super intuitive.

Now that the UX in front of the writer no longer intimidates you, go check out ADJ, The American Genius’ Facebook Group for Austin digital job seekers and employers. User-centric design isn’t going anywhere and with everyone getting into the automation game, you can expect even more opportunities in UX writing.

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