Apple releases ‘Portrait’ mode to all iPhone 7 Plus users with iOS 10.1 update

The new Portrait mode is possibly the best thing about the iPhone 7 Plus’ camera, but so far only beta tester could try it. That’s now changed; Apple has released iOS 10.1 over the air, with Portrait mode as the headline feature. As a recap, Apple combines data from the iPhone 7 Plus’ two cameras, along with some clever machine learning tricks, to calculate depth of field and give you an increased amount of background blur that mildly replicates the looks of a bright lens on a DSLR or mirrorless camera. And to be clear, it’s for the Plus model only.…

This story continues at The Next Web

5 counter-intuitive lessons I’ve learned by building startups

Building a startup is anything but intuitive. There’s a good reason startups are all about trying new things, testing them, and re-doing it all over again – there is no one right way, and what works isn’t always what’s logical. When starting a company standard advice like, “work hard,” and, “you have to wear a lot of hats” will inevitably come your way. It’s relevant, but it’s simplistic when you begin to face the challenges and uncertainties that define early-stage organizations. I have worked at a multinational consultancy, been a director for a portfolio of startups, and am now a…

This story continues at The Next Web

Trump forgot to register critical domains and he’s not getting them back

Donald Trump isn’t having the best of times. The polls aren’t in his favor, you can send him a dick lollipop for $10, and people are making fun of his tiny hands. Now it looks like he should keep a closer eye on his web domains – or more specifically, the ones he doesn’t own. A year ago we wrote about the domains Trump had registered to make it harder for people to troll them, and his collection of over 3,000 URLs is impressive. But unfortunately you can’t cover everything. Last week software engineer Brian Lam saw that one specific Trump-related domain was available…

This story continues at The Next Web

Watch this awfully clumsy drone change a light bulb – as it breaks 10 more

How many drones does it take to change a light bulb? The answer is one drone and a bunch of shattered bulbs – but it’s sort of fun. In an amusing new video, YouTuber Marek Baczynski sets out to change a light bulb, but instead of his hands – he uses his Syma X5C drone. As you could guess, the operation didn’t exactly go as planned. While taking the bulb off was relatively easy, putting it back up proved to be a bit of a hassle. Eventually, Baczynski managed to get a firm grip on the bulb and fit it right into the…

This story continues at The Next Web

Surface ‘Studio’ and ‘Dial’ trademarks possibly leak Microsoft desktop and phone [Updated]

Microsoft is hosting a major Windows 10 event on October 26. The company has been extremely tight lipped about what to expect, but all signs point to a new Surface all-in-one desktop PC, à la iMac. The rumor mill never stops churning though, and now we have reasonable evidence to believe the new all in one may be called the ‘Surface Studio.’ Moreover, there’s might be some other products on the way (probably at a later date) based on a set curious trademark applications – some made directly by Microsoft, others that may have been delegated. The information is provided to…

This story continues at The Next Web

How to make longer web forms easier for users

Some web forms have to be longer than normal. While an ecommerce site can limit the user entry to an email, delivery address and payment details, some sites need more information.

For example, forms on travel and financial websites have to be longer than most by necessity.

Long forms like this can be off-putting for users as they can give the impression that the process is going to be time-consuming.

For example, 13% of users abandon bookings on travel websites because the booking process is too long or overcomplicated.

So how can forms be made more palatable for users?

The look and feel of the form

It can be about the customer’s perception of the form. If it looks like hard work, people will assume it is. This is one of the reasons why some websites use one-page or accordion checkouts, as even though they require the same amount of information as other sites, they can seem like less work.

One way to do this is by breaking up the form into more manageable segments. For example, requires a lot of information for a car quote – job details, no-claims details, previous claims etc – but it does help to make it seem less work by breaking it up into sections.


Remove any unnecessary fields

One way to reduce form length, as previously mentioned, is to remove any unnecessary fields. Ask whether the information you need is really necessary to complete the process.

For example, the ‘how did you hear about us?’ fields in some web forms are just extra work for many. I doubt whether many people even take them seriously. Besides, analytics and other customer data sources should help you find the answer to this question.


Make data entry easier

There are ways to make things easier for users, simply by designing the forms more effectively.

Here, opts for buttons rather than drop-downs for most fields. Also, on the occupation question, rather than making me choose from a list of job titles, it suggests roles as I type. This saves a lot of time.


Add shortcuts where possible

Small touches like allowing users to use delivery address details as their billing details help, and are now commonplace. Postcode lookup tools can also save time entering full addresses.

In-line validation

Well-implemented form validation assures that customers can correct any errors as they go along.

This saves time, as well as the frustration that results when customers attempt to move on to the next stage of the form, only to find they have errors to correct.

Here, HSBC presents a tick to confirm that some fields have been entered correctly, and clearly highlights those that need attention. (Taken from the Mapa Research guide to financial forms).


Show time estimates for form completion

Some forms provide an estimate of the time it will take to complete a form.

It could be argued that this will deter some, but I think it’s good to be upfront and give users an accurate estimate.

Here, Lloyd’s provides an estimate before customers embark on its forms. (thanks again to Mapa).

hsbc lloyds-time

Save user details if they abandon

Where possible, saving user details already entered can really help. Perhaps they could save it to come back to later, or in case users bail out during the form.

Here, tempts me back to the form I’ve abandoned with an email reminder. It also reassures me that it’ll only take five minutes.


Think about mobile

Mobiles are increasingly used for travel bookings, so sites need to cater well for mobile users, making forms readable, and adapting to the user’s device of choice.

Here, ensures that a) the calendar tool is easy to use (a common issue on mobile) and b) adapts for the kind of information required, so it shows the numerical keyboard for card entry (note that it also offers card scan for greater convenience).


Our new Marketer’s Guide to Form Optimisation, produced in association with Fospha, is free to download. 

Bidio helps creators get sponsored without sacrificing authenticity

Each week we’re profiling one promising company that’s been selected for SCALE – our early-stage startup growth program. Catch up with 60 of the world’s hottest startups at TNW NYC in New York on November 16th. This week we bring you the header bidding solution Bidio. Using Bidio, independent video producers can upload original content and set minimum bids, then brands compete for the exclusive sponsorship rights. Read our Q&A with Bidio below, and be sure to catch them at TNW NYC this November! Tell us what you do in two sentences Bidio helps independent creators get sponsored without compromising authenticity. Using our cost-effective…

This story continues at The Next Web

Learn to build apps for Android Nougat with lessons from this top-rated instructor (90% off)

Android Nougat is the talk of the town, as it’s the quickest, most secure version of Android to date. And if you want to program cutting-edge apps for it, dive into The Complete Android N Developer Course, featuring lessons from top-rated instructor Rob Percival. For a limited time, you can pick up this hands-on course for just $19 on TNW Deals. Throughout 32 hours of instruction, you’ll build your expertise in a range of technologies, including the open source Parse Server, Firebase, Admob, GDX, Bluetooth, and much more. This means you’ll completely understand the technologies involved with crafting Android apps…

This story continues at The Next Web

SEO best practice guide for URLs

Today we’re going to take a look at the basic building block of not just SEO, but your very web presence itself: the humble URL.

Does the structure of a URL (or uniform resource locator for pointless trivia fans) matter to SEO? Yes it does, in fact there are many best practices you should consider when creating a URL for your content.

1) Keep a simple, readable structure

This is Google’s number one most important advice – “a site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible.”

It should be logical and readable for human beings. So you’re URL should be not

Use actual words and sentences that anyone can understand, especially when copied into other documents or emails. Stay away from eternally long random patterns of letters and numbers. Nobody wants to click on that.

Gov.UK recommends it should be as short, memorable and unambiguous as possible, especially if a URL is going to be referred to offline.

2) Use hyphens to break up words in a URL

Punctuation is key in promoting readability in URLs. Google recommends hyphens ( instead of underscores (_).

3) All URLs must be in lower case

If your URL contains upper case letters, redirect to the lower case version. In some cases (if you’re hosting with Linux/Unix servers) identical URLs where the sole difference is a capital letter – versus – can be considered different pages.

4) Stop-words in URLs

It used to be that you were recommended to avoid stop words (a, an, the) in URLs, but that doesn’t matter anymore. A URL just needs to make sense to human eyes.

5) Your headline doesn’t have to match the URL exactly

In fact it’s a good idea to vary the text, and make it more concise. If your headline says ’25 super-useful SEO best practice tips for beginners’ it may be useful to pair it with a simpler URL: 25-SEO-best-practice-tips-for-beginners

6) Make sure your keywords are near the front of a URL

It’s still good SEO practice to ensure a page’s keywords are near the front of a URL – but it still needs to be readable AND not stuffed with keywords.

7) Use a single domain or subdomain

According to Moz, “a company blog is far more likely to perform well in the rankings and to help the rest of your site’s content perform well if it’s all together on one sub and root domain.”

There’s apparently plenty of evidence to suggest that when a company moves content from a subdomain to a subfolder, they see a positive boost in search visibility in traffic.

8) The fewer folders (slashes) the better

Again, according to Moz, the more slashes your URL has, won’t necessarily harm your performance, but it can create an illusion of depth and make indexing your content more complex.

9) URLS should be the verb stem

As recommended by – you should use the term ‘apply’ rather than ‘applying’ for instance.

10) Avoid high numbers of URLs that point to identical or similar content

Overly complex URLs with multiple parameters (such as in point number one) can cause problems for Googlebots, by creating too many different URLs containing similar content.

Google provides a huge list of how this problem can be created in its guide as mentioned in my introduction. It includes:

  • Additive filtering of a set of items. If you provide different views of the same set of items or search results, especially if you let users filter by a certain criteria in an additive manner (for example: hotels in New York and with a panoramic view), the number of URLs on your site will “explode.”
  • Dynamic generation of documents
  • Problematic parameters in the URL (such as session IDs)
  • Sorting parameters
  • Irrelevant parameters in the URL, such as referral parameters
  • Dynamically generated calendar

How to fix URL problems

Here are Google’s recommendations for fixing problematic URLs:

  • Use a robots.txt file to block Googlebot’s access to certain URLs. Such as dynamic URLs or URLs that generate search results.
  • Avoid the use of session IDs in URLs. Use cookies instead.
  • Shorten URLs by trimming unnecessary parameters.
  • If your site has an infinite calendar, add a nofollow attribute to links to dynamically created future calendar pages.
  • Check your site for broken relative links.

The above tips were collected from various resources, including Google’s own advice, Moz’s guide and the style guide.

Please let me know of there’s anything missing, and I’ll add in a future update.

Dive into DIY tech projects with the world’s smallest Linux computer

An open source, fully programmable Linux computer that’s smaller than a coin? This isn’t science fiction: Say hello to the VoCore2 Mini Linux Computer. For a limited time, you can pick up the VoCore2 and an accompanying dock for just $42.99 on TNW Deals. This minute computer packs a punch despite its size, and you’ll be able to execute fun DIY tech projects thanks to its robust functionality. Program it using C, Java, Python, and other languages, utilize it as a portable wireless router, and even control other wireless devices such as speakers and cameras. Here are some things you’ll be…

This story continues at The Next Web