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Google Maps Integrates Local Product Data
Google’s Froogle last year became one of only a select few shopping sites to start to offer local, “offline” information (ShopLocal and CNet are the others) in addition to traditional e-commerce. Shopping engines across the spectrum recognize — and shopping maestro Brian Smith of Comparison Engines agrees — that offline inventory information is really the (I hate to say it but here goes . . . ) “Holy Grail” of online shopping.
People research online and then want to buy locally. Why? Because they don’t want to pay shipping, want to be able to return it locally, want it that day and, in many cases, trust the local retailer (even if it’s a big box) more than some anonymous online merchant, regardless of how many happy faces that retailer may have.
As has been widely reported, comScore is launching a tracking study (qSearch Retail) that will formally connect the relationship between search/online shopping and offline buying. This ongoing study will only confirm the increasingly powerful relationship between the Internet and local shopping. It’s estimated that almost $350 billion in offline transactions were influenced by the Internet in 2005.
Google’s/Froogle’s offline inventory data is being provided by chúng tôi and by ShopLocal. And now Google has integrated StepUp data into Maps/Local with a cool twist – product images. It’s buried and there are some kinks, but it’s very promising. Here’s an example.
First let’s talk about the obvious problems (recognizing this is a beta/first step):
3. I’m not able to search or category browse the micro-site/landing page for that product
Assume these problems get solved. Now let’s talk about how this starts to point to a really interesting opportunity for the consumer, the local retailer and Google – and how it much more clearly connects online and offline.
Assuming that the information offered by StepUp and Google is accurate and as the coverage becomes greater, and as the integration becomes more intuitive and “elegant,” this provides demonstrable value for both the user and the merchant.
I’ve argued for some time that all shopping engines will need to provide the “where can I buy it locally?” data to fully satisfy the dominant consumer use case. Right now there are a host of practical “infrastructure” problems that companies like ShopLocal, Channel Intelligence and StepUp are trying to solve. But it’s only a matter of time before “platform agnostic” becomes the norm and local/offline inventory information becomes a must-have for shopping sites.
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Lenovo is taking on Dell EMC and HPE with its biggest portfolio refresh since it acquired IBM’s x86 server business three years ago, offering a lineup of servers, switches, SAN arrays and converged systems intended to show that it’s a serious contender in the data center and software-defined infrastructure market.
Lenovo is tied for third in server market share with Cisco and IBM, well behind HPE and Dell EMC, according to IDC, and has a particularly steep uphill battle ahead in North America.
The company unveiled 14 new servers, seven storage devices and five new networking fabric products at its Transform event.
“This is the broadest portfolio announcement in the history of Lenovo,” said Kamran Amini, executive director for the company’s server and storage lines.
The ThinkServer and System x server lines will continue to be supported but going forward the new servers, storage and networking products will carry the ThinkSystem brand, complementing the ThinkAgile converged-system product family.
“I believe Lenovo’s new branding schema is actually a pretty big deal,” said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. “That’s partly because the company has fully put the acquisition of IBM’s System x group in the past, but is also stepping forward with a comprehensive portfolio that reflects its vision of the current server market.”
For example, over the past few years, Lenovo stopped offering some certifications for channel partners, Skaugen noted. That move may have slowed down Lenovo’s momentum in the market, since resellers who put in the time to get certified as official channel partners are typically offered incentives such as better sales margins. “Without those incentives (a reseller) may just wait for the phone to ring rather than getting out there and proactively driving sales,” Skaugen said.
It’s not unusual for a company to take a while to come up with an optimal sales and product strategy following a big acquisition, and Lenovo has been through the process before.ThinkSystem Servers
The new servers include the ThinkSystem SR950, which scales from two to eight processors in a 4U form factor. Front and rear access to all major subsystems allow it to be serviced without requiring removal from the rack.
Among the newly designed ThinkSystem blades are the SN550 and SN850, which can be plugged into the Lenovo Flex System chassis, designed to let users install different, multiple processors and standard Ethernet as well as Fibre Channel switches. The SN550 and SN850 blades will support the upcoming Intel Xeon Scalable Family processor based on the company’s Skylake architecture, as well SAS, SATA and NVMe disk drives.
The servers will be available in the third quarter and more specs, as well as pricing, will be unveiled after Intel’s Skylake launch in July.SAN Arrays
The new line of storage area network (SAN) arrays includes the ThinkSystem DS2200, aimed at small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). It can hold up to 12 3.5-inch or 24 2.5-inch hard disk drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs) internally, and supports up to 96 drives total (using three expansion units).
On the high end of the line, the DS6200 offers 12Gbs SAS, up to 16Gbs Fibre Channel, or up to 10Gbs iSCSI throughput. It can hold up to 24 2.5-inch HDDs and SSDs internally, and supports up to 240 drives total. Pricing for the SAN arrays, available in the third quarter, starts at $7,000 for the DS2200 and goes up to the mid-$20,000 level for all-flash storage with the DS6200.Switches
The servers, switches and SAN arrays join Lenovo’s ThinkAgile converged systems. The ThinkAgile brand was first introduced last year with the launch of the HX series of hyperconverged appliances.
Working with companies like Microsoft, Nutanix and VMWare, Lenovo is positioning its ThinkAgile systems to provide a beachhead into the world of software-defined infrastructure. The idea is to integrate hardware and software into systems that allow users to deploy computing, networking and storage resources through software commands rather than, for example, swapping in purpose-built hardware when they want to make changes.
The ThinkAgile family will include the Lenovo ThinkAgile SX for Microsoft Azure Stack, announced earlier this year and set to be released in the third quarter, for hybrid and private cloud deployments.The weakest link
Though the strategy allows Lenovo to say they offer best-of breed software, it has risks, Nadkarni said. In fact, Lenovo has worked with hypercoverged storage vendors Simplivity and Nimble, only to see them acquired by rival HPE earlier this year.
As Lenovo readies the release of its ThinkSystems and ThinkAgile products, plans for its next big move likely involve an acquisition.
On the sidelines of the Transform event, Lenovo’s Skaugen acknowledged that software is a missing piece in the company’s software-defined infrastructure story. When asked if Lenovo will look to make software acquisitions, Skaugen simply replied “yes” though declined to say whether enterprise cloud software vendor and current partner Nutanix is in the company’s sights.
If you live in an area prone to wildfires or have a loved one who does, then the Google Maps wildfire tracking is a definite must. You can see where the fires are located, how widespread they are, and the amount of containment in place.
What’s nice about this Google Maps feature is that it’s available on the web and in the Google Maps mobile app. This allows you to keep up with the wildfires wherever you are.
Table of ContentsGoogle Maps Wildfire Tracking on the Web
Head to the Google Maps website to view the wildfire tracking in just a few steps. You can log into your Google account if you like, but it’s not required.
Search for a location or use your current one. Then, select the Layers icon on the bottom left of the screen. When it pops out with the options, choose More.
This opens the Layers window with the Wildfires layer for you to pick. Once you select it, you’ll see a toggle at the bottom of the screen. This lets you know that you have the Wildfires layer turned on for the area.
Each reported wildfire is indicated by a red and white flame icon. Choose any of these icons to see additional information.
When you select a fire icon, this opens a panel on the left side. You can see when the last update for that spot was reported, the percentage of the fire contained, and the number of acres burned. If the wildfire has been named, you’ll see this as well.
You can close the panel using the X on the top right. Then, use the same actions you normally would to move about the map if you’d like to review other reported wildfires.
To find out more about the feature from Google, use the Learn about fire areas link in the side panel.Turn Off Wildfire Tracking on the Web
You can turn off the wildfire tracking if you have other business to attend to on Google Maps, like setting up a custom route for a trip or locating a family member.
Use the toggle at the bottom to disable the feature and return to the original map view. The toggle box will then disappear after a few moments.
Alternatively, you can select the Layer icon to enable the feature and then deselect the Wildfires layer to turn it off.Google Maps Wildfire Tracking in the Mobile App
If you’re on the go, you can review the Google Maps wildfire tracking on your mobile device. Open the Google Maps app on Android, iPhone, or iPad to get started.
You can search for a location or use your current one. Then, tap the Layers icon on the top right below the search box on the main screen. Select the Wildfires layer to turn it on and tap the X to close the Layers window.
Like on the web, you can select a red and white flame icon to get further information about the fire. This opens a window on the bottom part of the screen with details of the last update, percentage contained, and number of acres burned. Swipe up slightly from the bottom to view all the information.
After you finish, swipe down to close the details about that fire and then select another to view its information if you wish.
You can use your fingers to zoom by pinching inward or outward as you normally would in Google Maps.Exit Wildfire Tracking in the Mobile App
Tap the arrow on the top left when you have tracked the wildfire. This returns you to the main Google Maps screen and turns off the Wildfires layer simultaneously.
Interested in how to use other features like this in Google Maps? Take a look at all the uses for Street View!
Google updates search results for product review pages by listing an item’s pros and cons in the search snippet.
In addition, there’s structured data to go along with this update, but it’s not 100% mandatory to qualify for the new snippets.
While the new pros and cons structured data is recommended, Google says it will try to pull the information into the snippets automatically.
Here’s what’s changing and how to manually add the structured data to your product review pages.New Search Snippets For Product Review Pages
Google is displaying more detailed snippets for product review pages with new lines of text listing pros and cons.
In a blog post, Google states:
“Product reviews often contain a list of pros and cons, which our research has shown to be popular with shoppers when making their purchasing decisions. Because of their importance to users, Google Search may highlight pros and cons in the product review snippet in Search results.”
An example of the new search snippet is shown below:
Google can create these new snippets automatically, as long as the information appears somewhere on the page.
You can make the information clear to Google by marking up your product review pages with pros and cons structured data.New Pros & Cons Structured Data
In conjunction with the update to product review search snippets, Google is introducing a new type of structured data.
As a best practice, it’s always recommended to use Google-supported structured data when possible, even if it’s not a requirement.
To manually tell Google about the pros and cons of an editorial product review, add the positiveNotes and/or negativeNotes properties to your nested product review.
Examples of both types of markup code are shown below:
See Google’s official documentation for more information about applying this markup.
If you add pros and cons structured data, you must follow these guidelines:
Currently, only editorial product review pages are eligible for the pros and cons appearance in Search, not merchant product pages or customer product reviews.
There must be at least two statements about the product. It can be any combination of positive and/or negative statements (for example, ItemList markup with two positive statements is valid).
The pros and cons must be visible to users on the page.
Google’s John Mueller discusses product price as a ranking factor and explains whether it can impact the positions of ecommerce stores in search results.
This topic came up during the Google SEO office-hours hangout recorded on October 8.
It’s a poignant topic considering the rising cost of goods these days.
Many companies are finding themselves in the position of having to raise prices due to increased operational costs, scarcity of parts and materials, and other reasons that are out of their control.
Let’s say two businesses are selling the same product online, but one of them has to drastically increase the price because of extenuating circumstances.
Suddenly the product they were selling $100 is selling for $500. However, the other business is still selling it for $100.
Assuming all else is equal in terms of SEO, could the price gap have an impact on rankings?
It’s easy to think Google may want to direct searchers toward the lower price.
According to Mueller, that assumption would be wrong.
Here’s what he has to say.
Related: Google Ranking Factors: Fact or FictionGoogle’s John Mueller on Price As a Ranking Factor
It’s no secret that Google can recognize the prices of products on sales pages.
There’s structured data created for that purpose, and you’ll often see prices listed directly in search results.
Although Google can understand how much a product costs, it does not use that information to rank the product page.
“Purely from a web search point of view, no, it’s not the case that we would try to recognize the price on a page and use that as a ranking factor.
So it’s not the case that we would say we’ll take the cheaper one and rank that higher. I don’t think that would really make sense.”
He adds that product pages also show up in shopping results, which are ranked different from Google’s regular set of search results.
As it relates to shopping search results, Mueller says he doesn’t know how they’re ordered.
It’s possible that price is a factor for shopping searches, but he has no idea.
Users can definitely sort shopping search results by price, though. So that’s always something to consider when it comes to the cost of items.
“However, a lot of these products also end up in the product search results, which could be because you submit a feed, or maybe because we recognize the product information on these pages, and the product search results I don’t know how they’re ordered.
It might be that they take the price into account, or things like availability, all of the other factors that kind of come in as attributes in product search.”
The key takeaway is price is not a factor for web search.
Mueller doesn’t rule out the possibility of it being a factor for shopping search, but he can’t confirm anything.
“So, from a web search point of view, we don’t take price into account. From a product search point of view it’s possible.
The tricky part, I think, as an SEO, is these different aspects of search are often combined in one search results page. Where you’ll see normal web results, and maybe you’ll see some product review results on the side, or maybe you’ll see some mix of that.”
Hear his full response in the video below:
Featured Image: Screenshot from chúng tôi October 2023.
Using your smartphone to control music streaming while driving can be a recipe for disaster. Many accidents occur each year because people are fiddling with their phones while driving, yet you don’t want to stop every time you want to change what you are listening to on your music apps. Fortunately, road trip music can be controlled directly from some navigation apps. This guide shows you how to safely use Spotify (and other apps) directly from Google Maps and Waze.
Tip: need a positive moment in your day? Check out the best uplifting Spotify podcasts.Which Streaming Services Are Supported in Google Maps?
The embedded music feature in Google Maps allows you to control your music streaming apps with a button on the navigation screen. With a tap, you can access the audio player and make selections while actively navigating. You don’t have to leave one app to use another.
The audio player on Google Maps supports YouTube Music, Apple Music, and Spotify (iHeartRadio also seems to be available in some regions) on Android phones and Apple Music and Spotify on iOS.How to Enable the Music Player from Google Maps
To control your music streaming app from within Google Maps, you’ll have to first enable the music player feature.Android
Open Google Maps on your phone.
Tap your Google account’s profile picture in the top-right corner.
Scroll down to “Settings” and tap it.
Tap “Navigation Settings.”
Tap the “Assistant default media provider” option.
Select your preferred music service from the next screen. YouTube Music is already added by default. If you want to connect Spotify or Apple Music to your Google Maps, you’ll need to tap the respective option.
A new window will appear where you’ll be asked to link your Google account (the same one you use in Google Maps ). It will be enabled on all devices. Tap “Continue.”
On the next screen, tap “Agree and continue.”
If linking to Spotify, you’ll be taken to a page where you’ll be asked to allow Google to view your Spotify activity and account data (among other things). Tap the green “Agree” button at the bottom.
Your chosen music streaming app will now be your default music service in Google Maps. If you wish to remove it, press “Unlink” underneath.
Good to Know: if you’re constantly traveling to a particular location, it may be handy to know how to save a route in Google Maps.iOS
Open Google Maps on your iPhone or iPad.
Tap on your Google account profile picture in the search bar at the top.
Tap “Navigation” at the top.
Tap the “Music playback controls” option.
Select either Apple Music or Spotify. If you want to use the latter service in Google Maps, make sure you’ve downloaded the app from the App Store. Apple Music is preinstalled on your iOS device.
Press “Open” in the following pop-up.
If you selected Spotify, authorize Google to access your Spotify info by pressing the “Agree” button.
Your chosen music streaming app will now be your music player in Google Maps on your iPhone or iPad.
Tip: you can easily transfer your Spotify playlists to YouTube Music if you like this service better.How to Control Your Music App in Google Maps
Once you have enabled your music player and are ready to start your trip, follow these steps to access your music without leaving Google Maps.Android
Open Google Maps.
Open the Spotify app (or any other, depending on your preference) on your device and start playing music.
In Google Maps, enter your destination and begin navigation. You should see the music bar at the bottom.
It will display the artist’s name as well as the song playing. You can control music playback from there with a single tap. Press either Pause/Play or skip to the next song. If you have already created a playlist for your trip, learn how to create collaborative playlists with Blend on Spotify.
You can collapse the music bar by tapping on the downward arrow at the top of the card.
The streaming service’s icon will be visible in the app tray.
Interestingly, you can add content from more apps from the Navigation menu in Google Maps. Tap on the icon shaped like four tiny squares in the lower right corner.
You’ll be able to select the streaming apps you have installed on your device. In this example, we can get access to Castbox, Audible, and Podcasts.
Once you tap on the app, you can select a podcast from Google Maps.
Tap on what you want to listen to, and it will immediately start playing.
Tip: Looking for a Google Maps alternative? This list includes the best ones currently available.iOS
Follow the first three steps outlined in the Android section to bring up the music-playing bar at the bottom of Google Maps.
Interestingly, on iOS, you get an extra “Browse” button.
This takes you to a page offering recommendations based on the music you previously listened to. You can “Open Spotify” from there too.
The bar also features music controls, just like on Android. Although on iOS, you have an extra “Go to previous song” button.Which Streaming Services Are Supported in Waze?
Google Maps is not the only app that allows integration with music apps. The Waze app also does so on a larger scale. Whereas Google Maps only gives you two options for your media player, Waze gives you a choice between multiple services! You can use Audible, Spotify, Deezer, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, TIDAL, TuneIN or Scribd on Android. On iOS you have all these options as well, plus TuneIN Pro.How to Enable the Music Player in Waze
As with Google Maps, you’ll need to first enable the music player in Waze before controlling music streaming from the navigation app. The steps for Android and iOS are similar, with a few minor exceptions.
Open the Waze app on your device.
Tap on “My Waze” at the bottom. On iOS, swipe left to bring up a side menu.
Press on the gear icon in the upper-left corner.
Look for the “Driving preferences” section and select “Audio player.”
Make sure the “Show on the map” toggle at the top is enabled. “Show next song” is optional.
Check the list of supported streaming apps. If the app you want to use isn’t installed on your device, there is a handy “Install” button that takes you directly to the Google Play Store.
Tip: provide more accurate directions with pins on Google Maps.How to Control Your Music App from Waze
Once you ensure the music player option is visible within the app, enter your destination in the “Where to” bar.
Pressing the “Go now” button will kickstart the app’s navigation mode.
Tap the floating pink music note icon.
Select an app from your list. Waze does not have a default player, so select which one you want to use from inside the navigation app.
The first time you use each app, you must accept the permissions.
When Spotify finally connects, press “Play.” There are also controls for navigating to the next or previous song, shuffling, and “Loving” the song that’s playing.
If you want to change songs/albums quickly, tap on the “Show list” button underneath.
A pop-up will display your most recently played music.
To change the streaming app in Waze, tap “Audio apps” at the top of the screen and select a different one.
The music app you’ve used in Waze’s navigation mode will show under “Audio player” in Settings under “Your apps.”
Tap “Disconnect” if you don’t want to be connected to the app anymore while in Waze.
Remember, it is still risky to change apps or playlists while driving, but these features in Google Maps and Waze make it almost as easy as changing a channel on the radio. It’s also possible to create a radio station on Spotify and find new music to listen to while you’re out cruising.
Good to Know: wondering which music streaming service is the best? Check out our Spotify vs. Apple Music comparison.Frequently Asked Questions Why does music and podcasts continue playing even after I’ve exited and closed the Google Maps app?
This can happen if you’ve forgotten to “Pause” the song or the podcast you’re listening to from the Google Maps app. Even if you’ve closed the navigation or music apps properly before, you’ll need to open Maps again, add a destination, and go to navigation mode. You’ll notice that the audio is still running. Pause it,before exiting the app and you’ll have total silence.
Image credit: Freepik. All screenshots by Alexandra Arici.
Alexandra is passionate about mobile tech and can be often found fiddling with a smartphone from some obscure company. She kick-started her career in tech journalism in 2013, after working a few years as a middle-school teacher. Constantly driven by curiosity, Alexandra likes to know how things work and to share that knowledge with everyone.
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