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Weekly Update - June 18, 2022: Meet features, YouTube corrections, farewell to IE


Happy Father’s Day weekend to all you dads out there! This week there are updates for Google Meet, YouTube, and AdSense; another shift in focus at Facebook (make it like TikTok!); say goodbye to Internet Explorer; and think about AI sentience.

Note that next week’s edition will be posted on Sunday, as I will be at the Google Product Expert Summit in New York City (yay!).

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End of an era: Goodnight Internet Explorer

As of this week, Internet Explorer 11 is officially retired and no longer supported. It’s not fully gone - Chromium-based Microsoft Edge has IE mode that should let some websites designed for IE continue to run. 

Google Meet Updates

My favorite new Meet features: multi-pinning and picture-in-picture in Chrome. PiP lets you see up to four meeting attendee tiles in a window that floats on top of your other applications. Multi-pinning lets you pin more than one video feed in a meeting - for example both the presentation and presenter or a teacher and a separate demo feed or even a speaker and a sign language interpreter. These features are available to everyone.

Now when a host removes someone from a Meet call, it’s easier to report or block that person at the same time. This too is available to everyone.

Dereverberation is a new premium Meet feature that improves sound quality by filtering out the echoey noise when you are participating from a location with a lot of hard surfaces (like your kitchen). This will only be available to Google Workspace Business Standard, Business Plus, Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Standard, Enterprise Plus, Education Plus, the Teaching and Learning upgrade, and Frontline customers.

YouTube and Video

YouTube is launching a new feature called Corrections, which lets you add prominent time-stamped corrections to existing videos in the description. This should be available at the end of June. Learn more from Creator Insider.

If you are podcasting, get answers to frequently asked questions about posting to YouTube from a Strategic Partner Manager on Creator Insider (video).

Webmasters and Publishers

Google is simplifying Search Console reports by categorizing URLs as “valid” or “invalid” for a feature (like rich results). They will not show the current “warning” status when it might be confusing.

Google will be implementing new ad serving protections for teens on August 15. Teens who are younger than 18 will not be shown personalized ads or ads from certain restricted categories. Those categories are not just alcohol, gambling and weapons, but also dating, body modification, contests and more. AdSense Publishers should also be aware of any local restrictions on serving ads to teens.

There is a new “Google for Publishers” site featuring AdSense publisher success stories. You might be featured there too. All you need to do is tell Google “how ad revenue has helped you grow your business”. Fill out the form here.

Social Media

It’s the olds Tweeting about US politics. According to a recent Pew Research study, it’s those age 50+ who produce about 50% of tweets from US adults, and nearly 80% of political Tweets. And here I thought the old folks were all on Facebook! (I kid. I’m an old.)

Alex Heath at The Verge has the scoop on an internal Facebook memo that suggests making changes that would make the platform more TikTok-like. The plan would be to show fewer posts from friends, family and accounts you follow in your feed, and more posts from “the best content that caters to your interests”. And more video Reels, of course. Casey Newton points out that Facebook needs this pivot to a TikTok-like feed to work in order to fund their bigger pivot to the “metaverse”.

Meta now lets you purchase “designer” clothes for your Facebook, Instagram or Messenger avatar.

Meta’s metaverse is developing. The latest version of Meta Horizon Home (what you see when you first put on your Quest headset) lets you invite friends to hang out with you in your “Home” space.

Meta has also added new parental supervision tools to Instagram and Quest headsets.

Productivity

Google Calendar has improved email event invitations to make the important details easier to find.

Goodbye Talk

Google Talk finally shut down completely this week. Talk was Google’s original instant messaging platform which was migrated to Hangouts in 2017. But since then Talk could still be used via third party XMPP clients like Pidgin.

Does LaMDA think?

Google engineer Blake Lemoine believes Google’s LaMDA AI is sentient, but his claims were dismissed, so he went public to outside experts and to the Washington Post. Experts say that there isn’t any evidence that LaMDA is anything more than a really sophisticated chatbot. And while Lemoine cites a conversation where LaMDA stated it considers itself a person, in response to a question from the Post’s reporter, the AI said “I think of myself as an AI-powered dialog agent.” A previous demo had the AI chatting as Pluto.

It seems that LaMDA very good at making statements that people want to hear. And there is concern that the hype around whether the computer is “sentient” distracts from more important concerns about the current uses of AI.

Additional reading: LaMDA and the sentient AI trap (Wired)

That’s all the updates for this week. Subscribe to get the Weekly Update in your email inbox or favorite feed reader every week. Miss last week’s update? Get it here.

Image: Photo by Pixabay on Pexels. Free to use commercially.

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