Web Hosting News – HostGator Blog https://www.hostgator.com/blog Web Hosting and Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs Wed, 08 Aug 2018 19:14:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 The June 2018 Tech News Stories You Need To Know https://www.hostgator.com/blog/june-tech-trends-to-watch/ https://www.hostgator.com/blog/june-tech-trends-to-watch/#respond Mon, 04 Jun 2018 16:30:14 +0000 https://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=16711 The post The June 2018 Tech News Stories You Need To Know appeared first on HostGator Blog.

June 2018 Tech News & Trends to Watch It’s hot outside, but that hasn’t slowed the tech world, which is posed to bring as many new stories of controversies, product updates, and IPOs as usual. For all the professionals too busy to keep up with it all on their own, we bring you our update […]

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june tech news 2018

June 2018 Tech News & Trends to Watch

It’s hot outside, but that hasn’t slowed the tech world, which is posed to bring as many new stories of controversies, product updates, and IPOs as usual.

For all the professionals too busy to keep up with it all on their own, we bring you our update on tech trends to keep an eye on for June.

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1. Companies Worldwide Strive for GDPR Compliance

By now, everyone with an email address has seen a slew of emails announcing privacy policy updates. You have Europe’s GDPR legislation to thank for your overcrowded inbox. GDPR creates rules around how much data companies are allowed to collect, how they’re able to use that data, and how clear they have to be with consumers about it all.

Companies around the world are scrambling to get their business and its practices into compliance – a significant task for many of them. While technically, the deadline to get everything in order passed on May 25, for many companies the process will continue well into June and possibly beyond. Some companies are even shutting down in Europe for good, or for as long as it takes them to get in compliance.  

Even with the deadline behind us, the GDPR continues to be a top story for the tech world and may remain so for some time to come.

 

2. Amazon Provides Facial Recognition Tech to Law Enforcement

Amazon can’t seem to go a whole month without showing up in a tech news roundup. This month it’s for a controversial story: selling use of Rekognition, their facial recognition software, to law enforcement agencies on the cheap.

Civil rights groups have called for the company to stop allowing law enforcement access to the tech out of concerns that increased government surveillance can pose a threat to vulnerable communities in the country. In spite of the public criticism, Amazon hasn’t backed off on providing the tech to authorities, at least as of this time.

 

3. Apple Looks Into Self-Driving Employee Shuttles

Of the many problems facing our world, the frustrating work commute is one that many of the brightest minds in tech deal with just like the rest of us. Which makes it a problem the biggest tech companies have a strong incentive to try to solve.

Apple is one of many companies that’s invested in developing self-driving cars as a possible solution, but while that goal is still (probably) years away, they’ve narrowed their focus to teaming up with VW to create self-driving shuttles just for their employees.  Even that project is moving slower than the company had hoped, but they’re aiming to have some shuttles ready by the end of the year.

 

4. Court Weighs in on President’s Tendency to Block Critics on Twitter

Three years ago no one would have imagined that Twitter would be a president’s go-to source for making announcements, but today it’s used to that effect more frequently than official press conferences or briefings.

In a court battle that may sound surreal to many of us, a judge just found that the president can no longer legally block other users on Twitter.  The court asserted that blocking users on a public forum like Twitter amounts to a violation of their First Amendment rights. The judgment does still allow for the president and other public officials to mute users they don’t agree with, though.

 

5. YouTube Launches Music Streaming Service

YouTube joined the ranks of Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon this past month with their own streaming music service. Consumers can use a free version of the service that includes ads, or can pay $9.99 for the ad-free version.

youtube music service

With so many similar services already on the market, people weren’t exactly clamoring for another music streaming option. But since YouTube is likely to remain the reigning source for videos, it doesn’t necessarily need to unseat Spotify to still be okay. And with access to Google’s extensive user data, it may be able to provide more useful recommendations than its main competitors in the space, which is one way the service could differentiate itself.

 

6. Facebook Institutes Political Ad Rules

Facebook hasn’t yet left behind the controversies of the last election. The company is still working to proactively respond to criticism of its role in the spread of political propaganda many believe influenced election results. One of the solutions they’re trying is a new set of rules for any political ads run on the platform.

Any campaign that intends to run Facebook ads is now required to verify their identity with a card Facebook mails to their address that has a verification code. While Facebook has been promoting these new rules for a few weeks to politicians active on the platform, some felt blindsided when they realized, right before their primaries no less, that they could no longer place ads without waiting 12 to 15 days for a verification code to come in the mail. Politicians in this position blame the company for making a change that could affect their chances in the upcoming election.

Even in their efforts to avoid swaying elections, Facebook has found themselves criticized for doing just that. They’re probably feeling at this point like they just can’t win.

 

7. Another Big Month for Tech IPOs

This year has seen one tech IPO after another and this month is no different. Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi has a particularly large IPO in the works. The company seeks to join the Hong Kong stock exchange on June 7 with an initial public offering that experts anticipate could reach $10 billion.

The online lending platform Greensky started trading on the New York Stock Exchange on May 23 and sold 38 million shares in its first day, 4 million more than expected. This month continues 2018’s trend of tech companies going public, largely to great success.

 

8. StumbleUpon Shuts Down

In the internet’s ongoing evolution, there will always be tech companies that win and those that fall by the wayside. StumbleUpon, a content discovery platform that had its heyday in the early aughts, is officially shutting down on June 30.

Since its 2002 launch, the service has helped over 40 million users “stumble upon” 60 billion new websites and pieces of content. The company behind StumbleUpon plans to create a new platform that serves a similar purpose that may be more useful to former StumbleUpon users called Mix.

 

9. Uber and Lyft Invest in Driver Benefits

In spite of their ongoing success, the popular ridesharing platforms Uber and Lyft have faced their share of criticism since they came onto the scene. One of the common complaints critics have made is that the companies don’t provide proper benefits to their drivers. And in fact, the companies have fought to keep drivers classified legally as contractors so they’re off the hook for covering the cost of employee taxes and benefits.

Recently both companies have taken steps to make driving for them a little more attractive. Uber has begun offering Partner Protection to its drivers in Europe, which includes health insurance, sick pay, and parental leave ­ ­– so far nothing similar in the U.S. though. For its part, Lyft is investing $100 million in building driver support centers where their drivers can stop to get discounted car maintenance, tax help, and customer support help in person from Lyft staff. It’s not the same as getting full employee benefits (in the U.S. at least), but it’s something.

Those are the main stories we can see coming in June, but there’s sure to be a lot of tech news this month we can’t predict. Check back next month to see what tech stories to look out for in July.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.

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What the July Google Chrome Update Means for Your Website https://www.hostgator.com/blog/2018-google-chrome-update/ https://www.hostgator.com/blog/2018-google-chrome-update/#respond Thu, 31 May 2018 15:06:43 +0000 https://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=19346 The post What the July Google Chrome Update Means for Your Website appeared first on HostGator Blog.

What the July Google Chrome Update Means for Your Website There’s an update from Google Chrome that may change the way your website shows up online. For those who’ve already added an SSL certificate to their site and made the upgrade to HTTPS, you’re in the clear. But if you haven’t made the switch, this […]

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What the July Google Chrome Update Means for Your Website

There’s an update from Google Chrome that may change the way your website shows up online. For those who’ve already added an SSL certificate to their site and made the upgrade to HTTPS, you’re in the clear.

But if you haven’t made the switch, this is something you’ll want to pay attention to.

Starting in July 2018, Google’s Chrome browser will alert users that a site isn’t secure if it doesn’t have an HTTPS connection. Since Chrome may very well be the most popular web browser out there, this alert is something you’ll want to take seriously.

However, if you’re a HostGator customer who doesn’t have a SSL yet, there is no need to worry about this change. HostGator customers without a SSL certificate will be receiving a free one this July to comply with Google Chrome’s new requirements. This free SSL applies to all plans. For more information on how to take advantage of the free SSL visit our Knowledge Base

Curious about the change? Below we look at what this new HTTPS warning actually entails and how it’ll impact the future of your website.

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Google’s Move Towards a Secure Web

Google has been taking security and HTTPS seriously for a while. When you think about it, it makes sense.

Google wants to provide its visitors with the most relevant, secure browsing experience possible. When users feel safe on the web they’re much more likely to come back and utilize the services that Google offers.

A better user experience equals a more satisfied user base. The same goes for your website.

Google has already been giving secure sites preference in the rankings since 2014. Therefore, sites that have a secure HTTPS connection, as opposed to the standard HTTP connection, should get a slight rankings boost.

This Chrome update is the next step in the charge of an HTTPS focused internet.

 

The Impact of the Google Chrome Update

Google has been rolling out this update for quite a while. You’ve probably noticed sites that have a secure “lock” icon in the upper left hand corner of the search bar.

ssl website with secure lock in chrome browser

To users, this shows that your site is secure and can be trusted to safely process information.

HTTPS can be incredibly valuable for your site as it creates a secure channel between the browser and the website.

A secure connection is a must-have for sites that process personal information like an eCommerce website. However, this lock icon hasn’t been very effective in encouraging non-eCommerce website owners to adopt the new HTTPS standard. The new Chrome update can be seen as a hard push towards forcing website owners to adopt HTTPS.

 

How Will This Warning Affect Your Site?

If your site doesn’t have an SSL certificate installed by the time the HTTPS update is released, your site will display as “not secure” when accessed by the Chrome browser:

2018 google https update

You might not think this is a big deal. But, imagine you open up a brand new site from the search results and the first thing you see is a page that says, “This page is not secure.”

Chances are, you won’t stick around, or come back to the website. We’re not just talking about losing the trust of new visitors, but also compromising the trust of your existing visitors.

Fortunately, there is a way you can avoid this scenario.

 

How Can I Avoid a Security Warning?

The only way to avoid this warning across your site is to install an SSL certificate before the update takes effect. At HostGator, we can help you prepare for these Google Chrome changes by providing all HostGator customers with a free SSL certificate!

This is a fully functional, digital certificate, that is recognized and trusted by 99.9% browsers and devices. By having this certificate, you will avoid a ‘not secure’ warnings when people visit your site.

Additionally, we have paid SSL options for customers looking for additional features from their SSL certificate.  

Secure Your Website Today with SSL

Hopefully, you have a better understanding of the latest Google Chrome update and how it’ll affect your website and user experience moving forward. Our current customers should keep an eye on their inbox for a notification that their account is ready for a free SSL certificate.

Not a HostGator customer? You can sign up for a hosting plan on our website!

July Update: Please note that the free SSLs will be rolled out gradually. If you don’t see the free SSL added to your domain quite yet, it will be added over the next couple of days. 

 

Kevin Wood writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes Wooden Writing and Counter Culturist.

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April 2018 Tech News & Trends to Watch https://www.hostgator.com/blog/top-tech-trends-news-april/ https://www.hostgator.com/blog/top-tech-trends-news-april/#respond Fri, 06 Apr 2018 13:51:17 +0000 https://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=16274 The post April 2018 Tech News & Trends to Watch appeared first on HostGator Blog.

April Tech News & Trends As usual, the past few weeks have seen a lot of big tech news hit the press, some of which suggests some real changes to come in the tech and business worlds. For busy business people who have a hard time staying on top of new tech stories on their […]

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april tech news 2018

April Tech News & Trends

As usual, the past few weeks have seen a lot of big tech news hit the press, some of which suggests some real changes to come in the tech and business worlds. For busy business people who have a hard time staying on top of new tech stories on their own, we have our monthly roundup of tech news to be aware of this month.

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1. Facebook Faces Scandal

Facebook has faced scandals and criticism before, but the recent news that Facebook data on 50 million user profiles had been harvested and exploited by the marketing firm Cambridge Analytica may be the biggest scandal yet. The firm used the company’s data to create targeted political advertising campaigns that may have helped sway the last U.S. presidential election and the UK’s Brexit vote.  And internal documents suggest that Facebook was aware of the breadth of the data breach and did little at the time it was discovered.

This scandal combines people’s worries about fake news with their cyber security fears. The outrage has inspired #deletefacebook to trend on Twitter (although with minimal follow through) and Zuckerberg is set to testify in front of Congress about the scandal. This probably isn’t the end of Facebook, but it’s definitely got a lot of users thinking twice about how they interact with the platform.

 

2. Snap Has an Even Worse Month

Last month we reported that Snap was having a rocky month between a new design that customers hated and a negative tweet from Kylie Jenner. Well soon after that things went from bad to worse when the platform approved an offensive ad that made a callous joke about Chris Brown’s famous domestic abuse offense against Rihanna.

Rihanna was not having it. Even after Snap pulled the ad and attempted an apology, she publicly took them to task on Instagram, saying:

“I’d love to call it ignorance, but I know you ain’t that dumb! You spent money to animate something that would intentionally bring shame to DV victims and made a joke of it!!!! This isn’t about my personal feelings, cause I don’t have much of them…but all the women, children, and men that have been victims of DV in the past and especially the ones who haven’t made it out yet….you let us down! Shame on you. Throw the whole app-oligy away.”

The company’s stock value plummeted in response, losing more than $800 million. Hopefully other brands will learn from Snap to avoid making light of domestic violence or crossing Rihanna.

 

3. Hackers Disrupt Atlanta’s City Government

The city of Atlanta had to halt a number of city services and operations last month due to a ransomware attack made by hackers. The hackers demanded a ransom of $51,000 in bitcoin to remove the threat to the city’s digital systems.

Atlanta has managed to regain some of its systems, but the attack is a reminder of how much power someone with hacking skills can have over the functions of government.

 

4. Zscaler, Dropbox, Spotify, and DocuSign Go Public

It’s a big month for tech IPOs.

  • To start, Zscaler, the cloud security company had a strong start when it went public last month, making $192 million and watching stocks go up 75% on the first day of trading.
  • Dropbox followed suit with a similarly strong offering, going up 49% in its first two days on the market.
  • Just a couple of days ago , Spotify launched their IPO, which put their initial valuation at $29.5 billion.
  • And sorry, you won’t get time to catch your breath, because DocuSign has also just filed for IPO with the goal of going public later this month.

There’s just something about the stock market in the spring, it seems.

 

5. Self-Driving Vehicles Forced to Slow Down

Usually the talk around self-driving cars is excited and often brings a feeling of rushing – the companies behind them, the people working on them, and the consumers that want them all seem to be in a hurry for the tech to be ready and available.

But last month, a woman was hit and killed by a self-driving Uber, forcing the company to take a step back and slow things down for a bit. The company pulled all its self-driving vehicles from public roads for the time being while they investigate the cause of the crash.

 

6. Cryptocurrency Controversies

The city of Plattsburgh, NY made news last month by banning cryptomining. The practice, a way of gaining bitcoin, uses up a considerable amount of electricity and was taxing the city’s electric system. Because the city was using more than it was able to produce and had to buy electricity from outside sources, residents were stuck with much higher electric bills than usual. In response, the city government went ahead and banned the practice altogether.

On top of that, Twitter joins a number of other social media networks in banning all ads for cryptocurrency. The move is a way to try to reduce fraud on the site, especially as “crypto twitter” is known for being generally shady. Even with these minor setbacks, bitcoin and other popular cryptocurrencies remain a notable part of our modern economy.

 

7. MyFitnessPal App Hacked

The data breach of the month (at least so far) is MyFitnessPal. The app, owned by Under Armour, was hacked, compromising 150 million profiles. They’ve alerted their members and are requiring everyone that uses the app to change their password.

It seems like every month brings at least one new data breach. It’s a good reminder to keep your passwords secure and change them periodically for better protection.

 

8. U.S. Considers Requiring Social Media Info for All Visa Applicants

The U.S. state department has announced a desire to begin requiring all visa applicants to the country to provide details of their social media accounts. If the department moves forward with this plan, nearly 15 million people will be required to provide this information as part of their application – a requirement many feel is a serious invasion of their privacy.

While the administration claims this requirement is a way to combat terrorism, many are skeptical that it would make a meaningful difference while also concerned that it oversteps reasonable boundaries of privacy. Before a final decision is made, the public has a couple of months to provide comments on the proposal.

 

9. Collision Conference

Meeting from April 30-May 3 in New Orleans, the Collision Conference brings together over 25,000 attendees to network, view tech exhibits, and discuss and learn about topics ranging from AI to cryptocurrency to brand activism.

For anyone looking for a good opportunity to learn more and meet like minds, it’s the best tech conference this month to consider.

 

Happy April!

Like most months, April is a busy one for the tech world. Check back next month to see what tech trends to look forward to in May.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.

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What You Need To Know About Gutenberg https://www.hostgator.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-gutenberg/ https://www.hostgator.com/blog/what-you-need-to-know-about-gutenberg/#respond Thu, 22 Mar 2018 23:40:35 +0000 https://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=18919 The post What You Need To Know About Gutenberg appeared first on HostGator Blog.

What You Need to Know About Gutenberg If you’re in tune with the latest WordPress developments, then chances are you’ve heard of Gutenberg. This editor is set to replace the current backend editor. It’s currently going through beta testing and exists in plugin form, for those who want to get used to the editor before […]

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What You Need to Know About Gutenberg WordPress

What You Need to Know About Gutenberg

If you’re in tune with the latest WordPress developments, then chances are you’ve heard of Gutenberg.

This editor is set to replace the current backend editor. It’s currently going through beta testing and exists in plugin form, for those who want to get used to the editor before it becomes a stock WordPress feature.

Below we explore what the Gutenberg update is all about, what the update hopes to accomplish and address the most common concerns and questions regarding Gutenberg.

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What is Gutenberg?

Essentially, Gutenberg is a new WordPress text editor. The name comes from the inventor of the printing press, Johannes Gutenberg. This invention revolutionized the written word, and WordPress is hoping to do the same to the WordPress editor.

The goal of this addition is to make adding rich content to your WordPress site a simple and intuitive process. Instead of the classic post editor, you’ll be creating content with blocks. Instead of creating text-based content along with shortcodes and custom HTML to customize the look and feel, these blocks will be arranged on an individual basis

There’s a lot that Gutenberg is going to introduce to WordPress, but the main elements are highlighted below:

 

1. It Currently Exists in Plugin Form

Today, Gutenberg exists in plugin form. It currently has a couple thousand installs and a pretty low star rating. However, these ratings need to take into account the version being reviewed won’t be the final version of Gutenberg. This update will come into effect with the launch of WordPress 5.0.

gutenberg plugin

2. It Makes Adding Content Blocks and Embeds Easy

One of the core elements of this update are including content blocks and making embeds easy. The goal of these content blocks is to simplify the site customization process. You’ll have access to common content blocks like paragraphs, headers, and images, along with text formatting blocks, layout blocks, and widgets.

In terms of embeds, you’ll be able to quickly and easily add media from various sites to your existing site, like Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, Reddit, and a lot more.

 

3. It Includes Drag-and-Drop Functionality

Existing website builders make creating your website a very intuitive process. To build and customize your site with these you don’t have to utilize shortcodes, widgets, custom HTML, or plugins.

With the Gutenberg update, all you have to learn about and utilize are content blocks. You’ll be able to add content elements by dragging and dropping and will be similar to the Medium post editor. These blocks will allow you to accomplish all the same tasks without having to master and integrate things like plugins, shortcodes, and widgets.

 

Why The Switch to Gutenberg?

The shift to Gutenberg marks a change in the future of WordPress releases. From now on WordPress releases will focus on adding more features that make writing and publishing much simpler. The goal will be eventually to minimize the use of third-party plugins and instead incorporate those features into the WordPress core itself.

Currently, the WordPress community is divided about Gutenberg. You can see this in action by browsing through the reviews of the plugin.

However, it’s important to remember that the current plugin form of Gutenberg isn’t the final form. The user experience and feature set will definitely evolve over time. Most of the criticism aimed at Gutenberg is directed towards this unfinished version.

 

Common Gutenberg Questions

Since Gutenberg is still in the testing phase there are naturally going to be a lot of questions and concerns. We address some of the most common questions below.

 

When will it roll out?

Gutenberg will roll out with the WordPress 5.0 update, however, it’s difficult to pin down an exact release date for the update will occur. However, the updated is slated for sometime this year.

 

Can I still use the classic editor?

The Gutenberg editor will become the default editor. However, there are already some plugins that’ll overwrite the Gutenberg changes like, Classic Editor. Gutenberg will have an option called Classic Editor, which will mimic the look of the current post and page editor.

 

How will it be integrated into WordPress?

There’s been a lot of talk and feedback regarding the integration of Gutenberg. Some have suggested that it be incorporated into Jetpack. However, all signs point towards Gutenberg replacing the standard TinyMCE editor completely for a seamless page and post building experience.

 

What about existing plugins?

Gutenberg will change how certain WordPress plugins are developed and integrate with the post editor. Most plugins will have to be updated; however those that do will be at a huge advantage, and it could make development easier due to the flexibility of the block system.

 

In Closing

Eventually, the Gutenberg editor will replace the classic WordPress text editor. If you’re looking to get ahead of the curve and understand how to use Gutenberg before it becomes standard, then you can install the plugin and get a feel for how it works.

Time will tell the impacts and success of the Gutenberg project. It has the potential to revolutionize how content is created and edited within WordPress, but it’ll definitely change how things are done in the backend. One thing is for certain; Gutenberg will shape the future of WordPress for years to come.

Kevin Wood writes about technology and human potential. You can find him at his virtual homes Wooden Writing and Counter Culturist.

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Top Tech Trends to Watch in March 2018 https://www.hostgator.com/blog/tech-trends-march-2017/ https://www.hostgator.com/blog/tech-trends-march-2017/#respond Mon, 05 Mar 2018 10:24:53 +0000 https://www.hostgator.com/blog/?p=16194 The post Top Tech Trends to Watch in March 2018 appeared first on HostGator Blog.

2018 March Tech News You Need To Know Each new month inevitably brings all new tech news and trends. For busy business owners that can’t stay on top of it all alone, we’ve once again created a monthly roundup of tech stories to have on your radar this month. Tech Platforms Ban Nazis Now and […]

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March 2018 Tech News

2018 March Tech News You Need To Know

Each new month inevitably brings all new tech news and trends. For busy business owners that can’t stay on top of it all alone, we’ve once again created a monthly roundup of tech stories to have on your radar this month.

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Tech Platforms Ban Nazis

Now and then, we see tech companies taking a political stand. This month, two notable instances of it involve companies kicking Nazis off their platform.

YouTube banned two channels run by a neo-nazi group after media scrutiny and outrage over the hate speech expressed on the channels. And chat platform Discord shut down several neo-nazi servers as well. While taking a stand against nazis isn’t the boldest of moves, in YouTube’s case it still took outside media and users drawing attention to the channel for them to take that step.

 

New Releases from Mobile World Congress

Tech companies used the Mobile World Congress last month to announce new device models and feature updates.

The new devices demonstrated a real trend toward increasing screen size without adding to the phone size by reducing the bezels (the part of the phone around the screen) and a growing tendency to drop headphone jacks from phone designs, suggesting tech companies think Bluetooth headphones are dominant enough in the market to replace any need for plug-in headphones.

 

Parkland Survivors Use Social Media to Seek Change

One of the biggest stories of February was the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Sadly, mass shootings and even school shootings are common enough that this one could have been another case where it gets mentioned on the news for a day or two before the country moves on to other stories.

But because the survivors of this one are social media savvy teens, they’ve turned their experience into a movement to demand gun control.  They’ve successfully commanded the attention of the media and politicians (and are way better with a social media burn than any of the politicians that try to go toe to toe with them), showing in the process how social media skills can be used to really make a difference.

Dropbox Files for IPO

The cloud storage and file syncing company that’s used by millions filed for IPO with plans to go public in the coming month with hopes of raising $500 million. With more than 11 million paying customers, the company has been gaining in popularity over the past few years, although still on the whole losing money in that time. Nonetheless, a strong brand and recent growth should work in the company’s favor once it hits the market.

 

Spotify IPO Launches

The other big tech IPO making news this month is the popular streaming music service Spotify. The company filed on the last day of February and experts predict the company is worth $23 billion. In spite of having over 70 million customers though, the company struggles to be profitable due to the high cost of royalty fees for the music they provide.

 

Google Assistant Adding Functionality

While smart assistants are popular, there are still some real limitations on how well they work and what they can do. Google is hard at work trying to add to the uses people can turn to their Google Assistant for though. Just this last month, they announced adding a routines feature, which lets people create custom commands that tie multiple types of requests together. So you could say “OK Google, morning routine” and have the music and lighting of your choice come on together, for instance.

They have also added location-based reminders, so you can tell your smart assistant to remind you to get gas on your way to work and have your phone give you an alert once it senses you’ve left the house. And they’re teaching the assistant new languages, expecting it to support over 30 languages by the end of the year.

 

SXSW Interactive

With March upon us, that means loads of people in the tech world are about to head to Austin for SXSW Interactive. From March 9 through 13, experts from around the world will give presentations on topics ranging from how AI will transform fashion to the emotional life of autonomous cars.

For anyone wanting to hear about both quirky and serious ideas on the forefront of tech and culture, the conference is a must.

 

Google Launches New AR Functionality

google lensIn addition to the work they’re doing with their smart assistant, Google is also working to provide AR features to a range of compatible phones. Google Lens will make it possible for people to point their phone at something and learn about it – whether landmarks, plants, or art. In addition, their ARCore augmented reality platform lets people see an overlay of AR stickers on the world in front of them through their phone.

AR has been getting a lot of traction in the tech world lately and these moves by Google take us one step further in a direction we can expect to see them and other tech companies continue down.

 

Snap Has a Rocky Month

Snapchat is one of the biggest social media platforms out there, but they hit some snags in the past few weeks. For one, they released a new design and instead of hearing great feedback on the hard work they presumably put into those changes, they got a petition signed by over a million people asking them to change it back. Yikes. To make matters worse, a negative Tweet from Kylie Jenner basically saying the platform is over may have contributed to a $1.3 billion drop in the company’s value on the stock market.

That’s a lot of bad PR in a short amount of time. The company clearly has its work out for them if they want to win back some of the popularity they just lost.

 

March is looking to be a big month in tech and we can only imagine what to expect from April. Check back next month for a new update on tech news and trends to be aware of.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based freelance content writer and lifelong learner with an ongoing curiosity to learn new things. She uses that curiosity, combined with her experience as a freelance business owner, to write about subjects valuable to small business owners on the HostGator blog. You can find her on Twitter at @atxcopywriter.

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