Google on Thursday announced a redesign of its AdWords Express product, featuring clearer stats and graphs, a faster signup process, and a new real-time ad preview box. Unlike most Google product revamps, the changes are available starting today; just sign in and check them out.
First up, the redesigned dashboard now lets you quickly glance to see how many views, clicks, and calls your ad generated. A pie chart breaks down your monthly spending while a line graph lets you track your results over time:
Google says these changes are in direct response to customer feedback. Small business owners told the company they are simply too busy to waste time looking for this information, so Google put it all in the dashboard.
Next up, Google claims to have made “significant improvements” to the signup experience. The company has cut it down to just three steps: select your audience, create your ad, and select your budget.
Last but not least, Google has added a new real-time ad preview box that shows your ad created right as you type. You can now hover over the icons to preview all the ad formats that are available based on the text you provide.
Here it is in action:
All of these changes are relatively minor by themselves, but together they should help businesses push more ads, which in turn should increase Google’s revenue. Many people forget that despite all the various industries the company is in, ads are still its bread and butter. As such, the improvements it makes to ad-related products and services are arguably the most important, even if they aren’t particularly exciting.
Top Image Credit: Adam Berry / Getty Images
We first reported on Write for Dropbox back in February, noting at the time that it offers a near perfect way to jot down notes on your iPhone. And now it has landed on iPad too, bringing a particularly neat device-sharing feature into the mix.
Just to recap, Write for Dropbox is a text editor and note-taking app that offers an incredibly quick and elegant way to jot down notes and share them on the fly.
By default, all your messages are saved to Dropbox and, whenever you want to start a new note, you simply hit the plus symbol at the top of the screen and your current message will be saved automatically. If you need to quickly return to it, a swipe right reveals a list of all your synchronized notes, and you can also long-press any message to view a preview of its contents, which is particularly useful.
Now, Write has arrived with an iPad-optimized incarnation that serves up pretty much all of the same functionality already available for iPhone. But digging a little deeper, and you’ll see this launch actually enables another sweet feature.
Indeed, you can now use one iOS device as a remote clipboard or keyboard for Write on the other device.
To enable this, you simply open Write on the ‘host’ device, and click the Device Sharing button at the bottom of the main menu. Here, you can also connect to an existing device if you’ve already enabled ‘host’ on another iOS contraption.
It’s worth noting that the devices must be connected to the same WiFi network for this to work, so it won’t work out in the wild over 3G.
Now, on the ‘slave’ device (for want of a better word), you choose to connect to the existing host.
Here, on an iPad, you can see the iPhone is already connected so I would select that.
You have the option of using the secondary device as a remote keyboard, remote clipboard or both.
In terms of the remote keyboard functionality, it seems the main raison d’être is to allow you to use one device essentially as an external keyboard for typing, while the other one handles the main Write workflow.
As for the Remote Clipboard, this enables you to open any app you want on the secondary device, and copy content over to the host.
A typical scenario is this – say you’re writing something on your iPad, and you want to research something in Safari and copy some text over. Prior to this, you’d have to minimize the app, open Safari, then copy/paste. This way, you can use your otherwise idle iPhone or iPod touch to carry out the research, and copy text directly to the iPad. Or vice versa, depending on which is your host device.
When you’ve selected a chunk of text on one device and clicked copy, you’ll receive a notification on the other one telling you what text is available to paste from the clipboard.
The launch of the iPad version alone is good news, but the ability to sync between iOS devices is a great addition.
The iPhone version of Write is available to download for free now, while the iPad version will cost you $1.99.
Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock
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See the original post here: Write for Dropbox lands on iPad, bringing remote keyboard and clipboard features to its note-taking apps
Free mobile messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Kik, Viber, WeChat and MessageMe are getting so popular in the developed world that they’re eating away at the telecom operators’ SMS revenues, traditionally a cash cow (and actually a bit of a scam) for carriers worldwide.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, this trend is not much of a surprise – Nokia is now making phones with a dedicated WhatsApp button my friends – but it’s always nice to be able to put some numbers on it.
Enter telecom and media consultancy firm Informa, which has compiled some data for the Financial Times that shows the above messaging apps – and similar offerings from major electronics companies like Apple’s iMessage, BlackBerry Messenger and Samsung’s ChatON – have overtaken SMS as the preferred way to send text messages (via BBC).
The research company says almost 19 billion text messages were sent per day using free mobile messaging apps for smartphones in 2012 – compared with only 17.6 billion SMS texts – and that this number will more than double to 41 billion per day this year.
By 2014, Informa expects 50 billion messages to be sent via WhatsApp, Kik and other free mobile messaging apps, compared to just over 21 billion traditional SMS messages.
That does mean, however, that the number of SMS messages that are sent per day will also keep growing according to Informa. In other words, it may be too early to talk about the demise of SMS just yet.
It will happen eventually, but not until the majority of the world’s population uses smartphones in combination with a mobile data plan from their carrier. For now, no dancing on the grave of SMS yet.
Ahem, Neelie Kroes
It’s official: chat apps have overtaken SMS globally. The cash cow is dying. Time for telcos to wake up & smell the data coffee.
— Neelie Kroes (@NeelieKroesEU) April 29, 2013
In fact, Informa told the BBC that it expects SMS revenue to grow to $127 billion by 2016, up from $115 billion last year. So if you were hoping that free mobile messaging apps were going to slay the carriers’ SMS cash cow once and for all any time soon, you may have to be a bit more patient.
For now, SMS remains the one ubiquitous messaging system between mobile devices, period. It doesn’t require anyone to install a proprietary app or sign up to a separate service, and you can use it to send SMS messages from and to nearly every mobile device on the planet, regardless of the operator or how advanced your phone is.
Of course more messages are sent using free mobile messaging apps than over SMS (they’re free messages, after all) but to call it an adequate replacement for every mobile phone user worldwide today simply wouldn’t do justice to reality. WhatsApp may be an SMS killer in your life, but that doesn’t make it an SMS killer altogether, so to speak.
“There is a lot of life still in SMS,” Pamela Clark-Dickson of Informa told the BBC in an interview. She argues that people in emerging and developing countries, for instance, still rely heavily on SMS for communication, while companies in developed countries are only now starting to take a serious look at SMS for business purposes.
Seemingly not noted by Informa, but worth doing so in my opinion, is the fact that carriers and other industry giants are trying to buck – or join if you will – the trend by releasing IP-based communication apps of their own (see ‘joyn’, the consumer-facing ‘rich communications’ service and brand conceived by global mobile industry trade body and event organizer GSMA, or Orange’s Libon application for examples).
The SMS will celebrate its 21st birthday in December this year.
The question is: how many years does it have left?
Image credit: Thinkstock
EverSlide is a basic, but potentially very useful, hack built over the weekend at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2013 hackathon. As you might guess by the name, the service turns your Evernote notes into slideshow presentations. And it’s crazy simple to use, too. The first line of text in your Evernote note becomes the slide’s title, the second line becomes the slide’s content, and to create a second slide, you just insert a horizontal line from Evernote’s editing menu at the top. Then, boom, instant slideshow!
The hack was created by computer science student Michelle Fernandez and Andrew Leung, who’s currently in between work. The team met at the hackathon, and said they got the idea for the project by reading the Evernote forums where employees had posted ideas for hacks. (And word has it, the Evernote staff here, too, got pretty excited for this idea as well – they told EverSlide’s founders that they talked about the hack amongst themselves for some fifteen minutes after hearing about the team’s plans.)
The service is very minimal right now, given it was built over the weekend in between those midnight Nerf Gun wars and all, but the plan is to add more customization options in the future, including the ability to edit the fonts or colors of the text, perhaps, the ability to add photos, and more.
Read the original post: EverSlide Turns Evernote Notes Into Slideshows
Today, our lives are spread across a growing array of digital devices, from smartphones and laptops to tablets and connected TVs. While each device tends to perform certain tasks better than others, as we use tablets to read books and shop, laptops for work-related tasks and smartphones to check the weather, stocks and email, increasingly, our devices are working together in concert and becoming interchangeable by keeping us connected to the cloudy Web. Yet, in spite of the fact that we live in an increasingly connected and multi-platform world, when it comes to texting, we find ourselves locked in to our phones.
As former Googlers, Maneesh Arora and Amit Sangani set out to develop a solution for those who find themselves sending and receiving text messages and phone calls all the live-long day, while, in turn, giving Android users an open, cross-device equivalent to Apple’s iMessage. In 2011, the two co-founded and launched MightyText, a cross-platform app that today works natively on Android tablets and phones (and as an extension for Firefox and Chrome), and allows Android-ers to view and reply to texts regardless of what device they happen to be using.
Given our growing reliance on our digital gadgets, by offering a tool that allows users to send SMS, MMS and make calls from your PC, Mac, Kindle, Galaxy S III and even your iPad, MightyText has been quick to find an audience and has grown steadily since launching officially in July of last year.
In November, MightyText launched its first tablet app and, since then, Arora tells us that MightyText has seen over two million installs, tripling its user base over the past five months to three million users in all. As of today, he adds, MightyText is on pace to hit six billion messages per year.
But, today, MightyText is looking to take the first step in a strategy that the founders hope will take the startup beyond texting and, rather than simply being an alternative to iMessage will begin to put it head-to-head with iCloud. “There are a lot of other things that people want to sync between their devices besides texts,” Arora tells us. So, this morning the startup is officially expanding to support photo and video sync, a new addition to its platform launching in beta that allows users to sync their photos and videos between their phone and computers instantly and securely — and soon to their tablets.
Since MightyText already syncs texts, calls and contacts between users’ phones and their other devices, adding photo and video sync capabilities requires no work from MightyText users, Arora says. Once users activate the photo service, as they capture photos and videos on their Android phones, that media will show up in realtime on their computer.
While Arora admits that MightyText is hardly the only company looking to provide simple, cross-device sync and backup — Dropbox being the foremost example — he thinks that the “daily productivity piece” is still missing from current options. While Dropbox does sync and backup well, people don’t have a reason to “check Dropbox” daily, he says. Meanwhile, people are sending and receiving texts every day en masse. So, for those already using MightyText on their computer, tablet and phones, the service now gives them a photo and video experience that’s tied into their daily SMS habit.
“We think the photo syncing and sharing solutions out there aren’t working at full capacity just yet,” Arora continues. “You don’t hear too many people raving about the iCloud user experience.” Photos and videos become far more useful and relevant if they are part of your daily activity stream. “Imagine if every photo you take on your phone were to show up on the left side of Gmail for easy consumption and sharing,” he says. This would make consuming and sharing media among your devices — and your friends — more frictionless, and that Gmail integration is something the founders hope to add going forward.
After all, sharing photos and videos on your phone tends to be a multi-step process — six steps are required to share a single photo on Facebook, for example. Sharing, syncing and storing content across your devices should be as easy as using an email client, but, while the phone is great at capturing photos and quick videos while you’re on the go, it’s not quite as adept at publishing and sharing. With the rise of the “Instagrams of video,” particularly Vine, people are increasingly beginning to share video from their phone.
But, traditionally, mobile video has been hamstrung by tedious uploading thanks to slow data networks, poorly compressed video files, along with the multi-step process of sharing. While Vine and others remove some of this friction and allow you to share videos on social networks and access the app on multiple devices, it’s still its own network.
MightyText wants to make uploading, sharing and viewing video that you captured on your phone happen in a couple of clicks — and enable you to access videos instantly on any device. That makes a lot of sense, and if the startup is able to follow through, removes a lot of friction from the process.
Lastly, MightyText’s new photo sync service displays your phone’s battery status on your computer or your tablet and will warn you when it’s getting low. The more nifty features like this it can add, the more stickiness MightyText’s service will create.
For more, check it out at home here.