Ikea’s Smart Lightbulbs to Get Apple HomeKit Support

The update will also make them compatible with Google Home and Amazon Alexa, broadening the bulbs’ appeal among casual smart home enthusiasts.

Ikea Smart Lighting System Trådfri

When Ikea launched its new line of smart lightbulbs in March, the concept seemed promising enough (cheap smart home products from a well-known brand with a high-tech pedigree), but the execution fell short: the bulbs could only be controlled via Ikea’s remote or base station.

The Swedish home furnishings giant will now rectify that oversight by letting Google Home$129.00 at Best Buy, Apple HomeKit, and Amazon Alexa devices control the bulbs, according to MacRumors. Ikea’s announcement, in Swedish, indicates that the rollout will happen this summer and early fall.

To add the HomeKit, Google, and Amazon compatibility, Ikea will issue an update to its Tradfri smartphone app as well as the internet-connected gateway, both of which allow you to control the light coming from individual Tradfri bulbs. (Swedish speakers and Ikea watchers will note that the Tradfri name, which means “wireless,” breaks from the company’s tradition of naming products after Swedish geography).

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The update is good news for people who want to dabble in home automation but aren’t interested in opening their wallets wide. Not only is Ikea’s Tradfri lineup cheap compared to offerings from established smart bulb maker Philips (dimmer kits start at $20 and individual bulbs go for $12), but thanks to Google Home and Amazon Echo, it’ll soon respond to voice commands like “Alexa, set the lights for bedtime,” or “Ok, Google, turn on the floodlights.”

In addition to bulbs, Tradfri can also control Ikea’s LED-equipped cabinet doors, so you could potentially ask Google, Siri, or Alexa to create a mini light show in your living room. Like many other home automation products, Ikea’s lights use the Zigbee standard, so enthusiasts can integrate them with the vast ecosystem of Zigbee products like garage door openers and lawn sprinklers.

Instagram Is Introducing Algorithmically Curated Stories

Instagram is at it again, reaching into Snapchat’s bag of features and pulling out yet another for use in its own product.

Today, the Facebook-owned app is introducing Location Stories and Hashtag Stories, its version of the algorithmically curated stories you can find via Snapchat’s search feature. These new features consist of images and videos gathered from public stories, and stitched together based on hashtag and location. They’ll be watchable as cohesive, curated videos in Instagram’s Explore tab and on location pages — much like Snapchat, which does this with keywords.

With Instagram’s stories, the algorithm is the editor; it scans all public images and videos posted using hashtags and locations, decides which images and videos to highlight for each specific hashtag and location, and picks the order they play in.

“There will be no human editing,” Blake Barnes, the director of product leading Instagram’s Explore tab told BuzzFeed News.

A look at Snapchat’s keyword-based Stories shows the divergent and sometimes discomfiting direction algorithmically curated stories can take. Searching the keyword “Syria” this weekend, for instance, revealed a number of users trivializing the brutal civil war in that country. One Snap played footage of Grand Theft Auto with a caption that read “Live footage of a USA soldier bombing Syria.” Another showed a man in a Trump jersey with the caption “YASSSS FU Syria.” Yet another showed a person in Ohio wearing a gas mask with the caption “Waking up in Syria like.”

Instagram will likely also be home to a mix of fun stories and complicated and potentially disturbing ones. The fun stories won’t be difficult to find. As an example, Barnes played a few, including a Hashtag Story for #ootd, or “outfit of the day,” — a compilation of people posting well, the outfit they wore that day. He also showed Location Stories from Tokyo and Paris — compelling peeks into cafes and city life. But when BuzzFeed News asked him to show Location Stories from Tehran and Kabul, Barnes demurred. “Maybe you can try it when you get it,” he said.

Instagram, which has more than 700 million monthly active users, is much larger than Snapchat, and simply by the nature of that scale, it’s likely its stories will contain violent, graphic, and upsetting images. This means that through Location and Hashtag Stories, Instagram will likely have to wrestle with the murders and gruesome violence that are now a major problem on Facebook proper. And with algorithms making the calls, there will be little safeguard against them. Asked about this, Barnes said users can report concerning content and the platform will review it. “Our focus will be to make sure the content that the content we show and pull together into these stories conforms to our policy guidelines,” he said.

Google Search Ranking & Algorithm Shifts Still Underway

That Google algorithm update from last Wednesday seems to still be going on. Yesterday I posted a theory that was probably not fully accurate, hence a “theory.” In short, I said maybe the tools that were going nuts had to do with the featured snippets test. It seems that this theory might not be accurate.

For one, the tools keep going insane and also I am seeing real life cases of sites getting hit across the board and not just on search result pages that may have shown featured snippets. In fact, some tool providers have confirmed with me that they checked into the featured snippet theory and said their tracking did not pick up on the test. RankRanger told us they have “analyzed this data, and this began on May 12th. It did not have a major impact on the rankings.” While the folks at SEM Rush told me “according to Sensor data, part of this volatility might be explained by the drop of featured snippets result from the SERP, which seems to be spreading.” So it seems like in some or most cases the theory of featured snippets URLs being removed from the core results in not valid.

Like I said, the tools are still going insane. Mozcast, SER Metrics, Algoroo, Advanced Web Rankings, Accuranker, Rank Ranger and SEM Rush all still show signs of huge changes even over the past couple days. So a week of crazy algorithm and ranking shifts in Google.

Here are the charts:


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SERP Metrics:

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SEM Rush:

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Advanced Web Rankings:

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We also have tons of people claiming their sites got hit hard. Now, let me be clear, the amount of complaints are no where near the levels of Panda, Penguin or Fred changes – no where near the level of complaints. But these sites that were hit, were indeed hit hard.

Glenn Gabe thinks this is one of those core ranking updates:

The more I dig into the 5/17 update the more it looks like a core ranking update focused on quality. Seeing many connections to prev updates

Nathan Amery agreed with Glenn:

Here is another chart from Glenn:

Here’s another site that surged during the 2/7 quality update, only to get hit by the 5/17 update. Again, looks like another quality update.

We did quote many folks in previous posts showing how they think this may have been Panda or Fred reversals. Who knows. Panda runs by itself, so does Penguin. Fred, we know very little about.

Reseller in the WebmasterWorld forums said:

I think the current Algorithm Update of May 17 – May 18 is still in progress. Accordingly we see posts of affected sites still coming.I think we are dealing with a Panda related Algorithm Update.

Here is a chart from Stefan Wölfel from the comments here:

RankRanger wrote a more detailed analysis of their data and said they have “determined that Google has hit some major sites within the retail and consumer goods industry that has shaken the rankings a bit.”

SEM Rush sent me some additional charts showing some ranking changes for undisclosed sites:

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Google’s John Mueller just mocks what people are saying about it, which is typical:

And here is a response from Gary Illyes of Google:

I asked Gary for the more PR version and he shared:

@rustybrick @ReevaCutting @dan_shure @Google@Marie_Haynes @randfish @dr_pete We make hundreds of changes each year in order to deliver the best results for our users, and fluctuations in traffic are expected

What do you think is going on here?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

This is what Apple’s newest iPad might look like

Apple’s WWDC 2017 is getting closer, which means we’re soon going to learn more details about iOS 11 and the next major macOS update. But that’s not the only exciting thing coming out of the event. Many reports claim new hardware will be unveiled during the keynote, including a brand new iPad Pro model that will join the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch versions.

And now we have more images that show its purported design.

We already saw a bunch of leaked images earlier this week that showed cases for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Since then, the same leaker (Benjamin Geskin) posted a bunch of additional renders on Twitter that showcase what could be the final design of the tablet.

From the looks of it, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro will have the same design you expect from the iPad. However, this model will have reduced side bezels, and it looks like the top and bottom bezels might also be smaller than those on the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch versions.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Exclusive: 10.5‑inch iPad Pro (The model that case manufacturers received from the factory)

100% confirmed. Already in mass production.

The home button is still in the picture, so don’t get excited about an iPad Pro without a home button. That’s going to be a signature feature of the iPhone 8, one that requires sophisticated technology, so it might be some time before we see Apple bring this design decision to the iPad line.

Geskin also shared images of a mockup for case makers, which you can see below:

Finally, Geskin updated his 3D renders based on the leaks, which we’ve also included here:

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is already in production, a report from China claims. Should Apple launch it at WWDC in June, it’s likely that it’ll hit stores soon within the following weeks.10.5-inch iPad Pro Release Date

When AI improves human performance instead of taking over

May 22, 2017

The game results show that placing slightly “noisy” bots in a central location (high-degree nodes) improves human coordination by reducing same-color neighbor nodes (the goal of the game). Square nodes show the bots and round nodes show human players; thick red lines show color conflicts, which are reduced with bot participation (right). (credit: Hirokazu Shirado and Nicholas A. Christakis/Nature)

It’s not about artificial intelligence (AI) taking over — it’s about AI improving human performance, a new study by YaleUniversity researchers has shown.

“Much of the current conversation about artificial intelligence has to do with whether AI is a substitute for human beings. We believe the conversation should be about AI as a complement to human beings,” said Nicholas Christakis, YaleUniversity co-director of the Yale Institute for Network Science (YINS) and senior author of a study by Yale Institute for Network Science.*

AI doesn’t even have to be super-sophisticated to make a difference in people’s lives; even “dumb AI” can help human groups, based on the study, which appears in the May 18, 2017 edition of the journal Nature.

How bots can boost human performance

In a series of experiments using teams of human players and autonomous software agents (“bots”), the bots boosted the performance of human groups and the individual players, the researchers found.

The experiment design involved an online color-coordination game that required groups of people to coordinate their actions for a collective goal. The collective goal was for every node to have a color different than all of its neighbor nodes. The subjects were paid a US$2 show-up fee and a declining bonus of up to US$3 depending on the speed of reaching a global solution to the coordination problem (in which every player in a group had chosen a different color from their connected neighbors). When they did not reach a global solution within 5 min, the game was stopped and the subjects earned no bonus.

The human players also interacted with anonymous bots that were programmed with three levels of behavioral randomness — meaning the AI bots sometimes deliberately made mistakes (introduced “noise”). In addition, sometimes the bots were placed in different parts of the social network to try different strategies.

The result: The bots reduced the median time for groups to solve problems by 55.6%. The experiment also showed a cascade effect: People whose performance improved when working with the bots then influenced other human players to raise their game. More than 4,000 people participated in the experiment, which used Yale-developed software called breadboard.

The findings have implications for a variety of situations in which people interact with AI technology, according to the researchers. Examples include human drivers who share roadways with autonomous cars and operations in which human soldiers work in tandem with AI.

“There are many ways in which the future is going to be like this,” Christakis said. “The bots can help humans to help themselves.”

Practical business AI tools

One example: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff uses a bot called Einstein to help him run his company, Business Intelligence reported Thursday (May 18, 2017).

“Powered by advanced machine learning, deep learning, predictive analytics, natural language processing and smart data discovery, Einstein’s models will be automatically customised for every single customer,” according to the Salesforce blog. “It will learn, self-tune and get smarter with every interaction and additional piece of data. And most importantly, Einstein’s intelligence will be embedded within the context of business, automatically discovering relevant insights, predicting future behavior, proactively recommending best next actions and even automating tasks.”

Benioff says he also uses a version called Einstein Guidance for forecasting and modeling. It even helps end internal politics at executive meetings, calling out under-performing executives.

“AI is the next platform. All future apps for all companies will be built on AI,” Benioff predicts.

* Christakis is a professor of sociology, ecology & evolutionary biology, biomedical engineering, and medicine at Yale. Grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the National Institute of Social Sciences supported the research.

Abstract of Locally noisy autonomous agents improve global human coordination in network experiments

Coordination in groups faces a sub-optimization problem and theory suggests that some randomness may help to achieve global optima. Here we performed experiments involving a networked colour coordination game in which groups of humans interacted with autonomous software agents (known as bots). Subjects (n = 4,000) were embedded in networks (n = 230) of 20 nodes, to which we sometimes added 3 bots. The bots were programmed with varying levels of behavioural randomness and different geodesic locations. We show that bots acting with small levels of random noise and placed in central locations meaningfully improve the collective performance of human groups, accelerating the median solution time by 55.6%. This is especially the case when the coordination problem is hard. Behavioural randomness worked not only by making the task of humans to whom the bots were connected easier, but also by affecting the gameplay of the humans among themselves and hence creating further cascades of benefit in global coordination in these heterogeneous systems.