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The Last Week In Digital - May 20th 2016

We take a look at how Google, OkCupid and Instagram have made the news

20May

Details of Instagram’s analytics surface

Perhaps belatedly, Instagram is set to launch analytics tools for the many businesses and brands using the app. Posted on Instagram scheduling tool Later.com’s blog, the ‘insights’ will focus on both post analytics and follower demographics - age, gender, location, etc. - whilst also displaying new follower acquisition on an hourly or daily basis.

Using the analytics tools, brands will be able to discern which posts attracted the most new followers, and the times at which it is best to post, among other insights. The likes of Facebook and Twitter have offered analytics for businesses for some time now but, short of adding a video view count, Instagram had been lagging some way behind. Business profiles will also have contact buttons as well as access to maps.

Google launches Gboard

Google is attempting to further muscle its way into the fundamental workings of iOS with its new keyboard extension. The function is essentially a more convenient extension of its search app, which is separate from Google Chrome and allows for quick web searches. Once the app is installed, the user simply has to tap the G symbol just above their keyboard to immediately search, without having to leave whatever app they’re using.

Gboard can be used to search for and send gifs, much like Facebook’s successful gif keyboard for Messenger. Google have also made it possible for users to search for emojis, rather than scrolling through. It also allows for swipe-typing. The launch is an important one for Google given that smartphone users spend the vast majority of their time using apps, rather than a browser.

OkCupid profiles leaked

The profiles of some 70,000 OKCupid users were released earlier this week. Users’ answers to probing questions - on everything from drug use to sexual turn-ons - are used by the site to generate appropriate matches, but were released by university researchers in an arguably legitimate raid.

The information siphoned is available to anyone with an active account, but two users both have to publicly answer a question for their responses to be visible to one another - outsiders cannot peer in. Only usernames were connected to the data, but those with identifiable names may find themselves exposed. Consent is an issue here, particularly for the many users that will have left the site since the information was collected. OKCupid are ‘exploring legal options’ against what they see as a ‘clear violation of [their] terms of service.’

Google’s Waze announces Carpool

In a move that pits it against the giants of Uber and Lyft, Google has entered the ride-sharing industry, using their existing Waze app to create a carpool service. At the beginning of the week, Google announced that it would be trialling Waze Carpool, allowing about 25,000 Bay Area employees to carpool to work during the morning and evening rush hours.

Waze Carpool is charging users just $0.54 a mile, what the IRS recommends employees be reimbursed by their companies for business travel. As suggested by Quartz, if Waze Carpool could be somehow combined with Google’s ever-improving self-driving car technology, the resultant service could be a threat to even the giants of Uber.

Android Pay launches in the UK… and then doesn’t

Android Pay - Google’s answer to the successful Apple Pay - has been live in the US since September 2015, but is still not quite ready in the UK. In a market in which 60% of smartphone users use an Android device, though, its implementation will be massive. For the first time, just about anyone in the UK with a smartphone will be able to pay with it, a move that could serve to normalize the process, just as Tfl did when it allowed contactless cards at its ticket barriers.

Earlier this week Google jumped the gun, Tweeting that the service was live before backtracking and urging further patience. To compete with Apple, Android is offering perks like Android Pay Day, which will bring special offers to users ’to brighten the last week before pay day.’ Android Pay will also alert users who forget to ‘tap out’ at London Underground stations, saving them being charged the maximum fare. Android Pay may not be here just yet, but you’ll know when it is. 

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