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Google to the Internet: Go mobile or watch your sales rank fall

Four years ago, for the Web Globalization Report Card, I began noting (and rewarding) those websites that supported mobile devices. Even then one could easily see the virtual grounds shifting in favor of mobile devices. But at the time, only about 20% of the websites studied supported mobile devices.

In this year’s Report Card, the majority of websites are now mobile friendly. Over the past two years, I’ve witnessed a flurry of newly responsive web designs from a diverse range of companies including Philips, Merck, VMware and Pepsi.

Even Apple now supports a responsive website. Shown below are before and after screen grabs:

apple_responsive

If your company hasn’t yet made the leap to mobile, now is the time to accelerate your plans — unless you don’t care much for your search ranking.

Google has made it abundantly clear that websites that do not support mobile devices are going to suffer.

Beginning April 21st.

According to Google:

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

All languages. All regions. This makes great sense given that markets like China and Indonesia are overwhelmingly experiencing the Internet via mobile devices.

Google wants to remain relevant to mobile users which means your website needs to remain relevant to Google.

Which means, ultimately, remaining relevant to your web users. Particularly if you plan to succeed globally.

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So what if the icons are ugly, iOS 7 now supports Tamil

ciao

So I just spent an hour upgrading my iPhone to iOS 7.

My first thought was: Boy, these icons are ugly.

And there’s this strange mix of text-only buttons and visual buttons. Some of the apps feel like a step backwards, like Calendar. It all feels a bit rushed. Like the folks at top were so eager to launch something “new” that they didn’t give enough thought to why they were making some of the changes they made.

But this post isn’t about what I think about the design. I’m stuck with it, for now at least.

This post is about what global improvements Apple has made to iOS 7.

And there are a few positives to highlight.

Let’s start with the welcome screen when you see on first use. In iOS 6, only the swipe screen iterated between languages. In iOS 7, the languages are now front and center, which is  nice to see. This austere welcome page conveys the enthusiasm that Apple has for welcoming users from around the world. And I think it’s cool to highlight the supported languages, even if most users will only ever use one language.

iOS7 multilingual

As an aside, you don’t see any flags here do you? No flags at all in the operating system, which contrasts with the Apple website. It’s just a matter of time before Apple abandons flags on its website as well (or so I’ve long hoped!).

I also want to highlight the new keyboard input and dictionary support for Tamil.

tamil

Apple supports two types of Tamil inputs — Tamil99, which is the officially approved input keyboard, (shown above) and an Anjal keyboard, which provides a phonetic input.

Finally, here are a few additional improvements for China, which is now Apple’s second-largest market.

  • Tencent Weibo social network integration.
  • Chinese-English bilingual dictionary.
  • Improved Chinese input including T9 keyboard for pinyin; handwriting recognition for multiple Chinese characters.

Overall, there’s nothing truly groundbreaking here, just slow and steady improvements.

 

 

 

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iYouth: The battle over the next generation of tech consumers

I love these new Apple advertisements:

And…

But one thing I couldn’t help but wonder while watching them: Where are the older folks?

That is, where are the people of my demographic? Or my parents?

If you look closely you’ll see one or two people who may be 40 or 50 years or older, but overwhelmingly these are ads starring young people.

Apple does not want to be known as that company that is only popular with your parents.

A point that Samsung is happy to underscore with this ad:

Of course, Apple is hugely popular with your parents. And grandparents. And even great-grandparents.

Which is probably why Apple is so focused on the next generation of tech consumers.

And not just American tech consumers, but global tech consumers.

 

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Apple iOS 6 provides a multilingual welcome

Apple provides a subtle, but global, welcome to new users of iOS 6.

I just downloaded the OS today and captured a few screens to illustrate below:

The only thing that changes is the language of the “slide to set up” message.

It could be argued that the text is largely meaningless since most people will figure out how to use that slider thingie on their own. But that’s why the iterating languages are a nice fit. The message conveyed here is not just that of “slide to set up” but also that of a global company welcoming its customers from around the world.

Note how the length of the text string changes based on the language — a great example of how you need to build flexibility into your interface to make it truly world ready.