Though it may sound enticing to some, “Mobilegeddon” is not the sudden annihilation of all mobile devices. Rather, Google is releasing a new search algorithm that will impact how mobile users find websites. For those of you who aren’t up on your search engine technology, Google uses a complex, closely-guarded formula to calculate its search result rankings for all the websites it indexes. The last major update to the algorithm, entitled “Panda“, was released in 2011, and was designed to reduce the impact of gaming search engine ranking through content manipulation, a specialty of many less-than-honest SEO companies that sprang into existence in the last decade. Panda impacted about 12% of existing websites, most of them content farms designed to leverage popular content and other nefarious SEO methods to get to the top of search results.
What this means for you:
This time around, Google is focusing on providing better results for smartphone users by favoring mobile-friendly websites over those that display poorly on small screens. If you don’t drive business through your website, this may not be a high priority for you, but it may surprise you to know that over half of all internet traffic is from mobile devices, and nearly 40% of search is done on smartphones. Having a website is essentially a must-have for any ongoing business or organization, and if your website makes a poor showing to over half of your visitors, it will have an impact on your brand. How do you know if your website is ready for Mobilegeddon? You can punch in your URL to a website developed by Google to determine whether your website is mobile-friendly. Unlike Google’s last algorithm change, this one should start impacting rankings as soon as 72 hours from launch. Lest you think you are the only one caught out in the cold with this change, there are several internationally recognized brands whose sites do not pass Google’s mobile “sniff test.” One advantage you may have over corporate behemoths: less red tape and meetings will be necessary to make the required changes to your website, also you happen to know someone who can provide strategic advice in this area as well as assist in the website redesign. Give us a call if you need to “mobilize” your website!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Despite the fact that everyone (including me) has been telling you that encryption makes the data stored on your smartphone safer, it would seem that is not necessarily the case for iOS devices. Renowned iPhone hacker, developer and author Jonathan Zdziarski presented a large body of research and evidence that Apple has built backdoor data access into its devices for some time, and not just the kind required by law enforcement for warranted search or for troubleshooting and debugging. Also damning was the fact that these processes and services aren’t documented at all by Apple, but are apparently well-known by various law enforcement agencies and forensic data specialists. And the cherry on top? The encryption on your iPhone can easily be bypassed by these backdoor tools through USB connections, wifi and possibly even cellular connections.
What this means for you:
According to Mr. Zdziarski’s findings, iPhone encryption is essentially bypassed because iOS maintains a base state of authentication even if your phone is “locked” with a pin or password. The tools and services running quietly in the background of your device have direct access to your data, and not just the “anonymous” or “non-identifying” data that Apple collects for performance and troubleshooting purposes. Apple has yet to comment on Mr. Zdziarski’s findings, but the growing media attention on this issue will likely force a response from the Cupertino company. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about this, as these backdoors are so deeply embedded in the operating system of iOS that removing or disabling them is impossible. You can, of course, demonstrate your displeasure by contacting your local congress-critter, providing feedback to Apple, as well as restraining yourself from buying Apple products until they address everyone’s privacy concerns. Given Apple’s strangle-hold on the smartphone market, they have very little incentive to change anything unless consumer sentiment starts to sway against them on this issue.
Everyone I know that uses an iPhone has told me that Siri is, at best, a fun party trick, and at worst, completely useless. If you were sold on your latest iPhone by the promises Zooey Deschanel or Martin Scorsese failed to deliver, then you may find solace in a competitive offering from Google. Voice search is now embedded in Google’s recently updated and free iOS search app, allowing you to ask natural language questions and (hopefully) receive audible answers powered by Google’s vast databases.
What this means for you:
If you are one of those people who don’t mind addressing their smartphones like they were animate objects, (you know who you are!) then this app is worth a try. Android users with the Jelly Bean operating system on their devices (Nexus users and some specific late-model Android phones) have been enjoying Google’s voice-driven search capabilities for several months, with generally favorable reviews as compared to Apple’s Siri. It’s free – all you have to lose is some time (and possibly your dignity).