Mon. Jul 6th, 2020

Google Search adds highlights, Poco pricing weirdness, and more tech news today

Google now slaps highlighting and auto-scroll on webpages, while Xiaomi's promised new Poco F2 Pro pricing is ...odd, at best.

Your tech news digest, by way of the DGiT Daily tech newsletter, for Thursday, June 4. 

1. Best look at Google’s new Nest Android TV streaming dongle

Google has a change that’s now rolling out everywhere: it will now highlight search results directly on webpages, and scroll down to the relevant part of the page.

What’s new:

How it works:

The key is in Featured Snippets, or those little boxes of info Google rips from websites and puts on its search result pages:

  • If you search a common term, like ‘what does a vpn do’, you’ll see a featured snippet of the search result, possibly with the entire answer inside, as shown:

  • (Which snippet you get depends on what Google deems relevant from its data on your account)
  • The purpose is to help people with faster results from the content via these featured snippets (to the occasional chagrin of the writer of that content, who sees it shared without anyone actually clicking on their site and reading the full work.)
  • But chances are pretty good that while that featured snippet has delivered more information, you’ll still want the full story.
  • Clicking through to that result will now reveal results like this:

  • That yellow highlighting in the screenshot above is inserted by Google, and that’s a huge change.
  • That screenshot is from Chrome on desktop, but it’s the same for Chrome on mobile results as well. It was the same for Safari on mobile, but not desktop. I didn’t see yellow text on Firefox nor Microsoft Edge.
  • According to Moz.com, 24% of search results display a featured snippet. But the reason snippets are provided is that those are the high volume searches where Google can deliver an answer with high confidence.

Ugly, but:

  • While this is a bit ugly, it is useful. The message from Google is that people are spending too long having to find what they’re after on cluttered websites, so is making the key data from a search as obvious as it can.
  • Google can identify that data better than any other company on the internet.
  • I can’t tell you how big this is. While it has been occasionally seen in Google’s AMP pages since 2018, this rolling out to all websites is going to lead to the web changing as we know it, as sites adapt to what Google wants. And try to move ads into spots so they’re visible, too.
  • The power Google wields is just enormous, so we’ll see where this goes next. But expect responses from websites trying to keep up as the world changes.
  • But the feedback I’ve seen so far is that this is awesome and a great change, saving people time and energy.
  • And that’s the game Google plays: whatever it takes to improve the user experience, and not necessarily good for website owners that supply results to Google.

2. The smartphone CPU arms race is about to heat up again (Android Authority).


3. Did Xiaomi pull a fast one with Poco F2 Pro pricing? The promised €499 is hard to find (Android Authority).


4. Staff Picks: 12 things Kris uses every day, from the Flexispot E5 standing desk to the Secret Lab Omega chair (Android Authority).


5. Some inside baseball: “Controlled� PR leaks of upcoming phones are a real thing, and Vivo’s involvement here is unusual (notebookcheck.net).


6. Apple still mulling services bundle, as new iOS internal files include references to a “bundle offer� and “bundle subscription�: so, Apple Music, Apple News+, Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, together, at what price? iCloud storage too? (9to5Mac).


7. There are loads more photos and detail into the canceled Dyson EV, including a funky looking steering wheel (Autocar).


8. 60 more Starlink satellites went up last night, and nailed the landing out at sea, the fifth takeoff and landing for that booster. Also, one satellite was trying out the new sun-visor shielding to keep the skies dark (Space). Also, SpaceX Starlink is now its own ASN and present at the Seattle Internet Exchange: good discussion of the wider Starlink ambitions and realities (Hacker News). Annnnd on that note, shout out to flightclub.io for next-level detail on flight launches, worth a look if you haven’t seen it before.


9. This tech had us dreaming big. Then it flopped spectacularly�: hoverboards, razor phone (like, razorblade), and more grand ideas (CNET).


10. So long TNT, there’s a new explosive in town: Bis-oxadiazole, less toxic to produce and more explosive (Popular Mechanics).


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