The Return of Google Reviews (Backdated)

In order to adjust to working from home and to focus on the needs of critical health businesses, the Google My Business team had to temporarily suspend three key GMB functions in late March, including:

• Business information edits

• Newly created listings, claims and verifications

• Reviews, Q&A, user photos

In mid-April, the Google My Business team updated its guidance for each:

• Business information edits: Critical edits are being prioritized, and most edits are being delayed. This is still coming back online slowly, but you can use Google Posts, business attributes in GMB or the new COVID-19 update while you’re waiting for edits to process.

• Newly created listings, claims and verifications: Still delayed for certain businesses.

• Reviews, Q&A, user photos: These will gradually return by business category and country. Gradually, user reviews and photos will start appearing. According to BrightLocal, it appears the backlog is clearing for the automotive and restaurant categories first and reviews are dated when they were submitted (i.e. backdated), not when they were published. Home service businesses are starting to see some reviews appearing as well.

The Apple – Google Contact Tracing App

Big Brother or A Game of Tag?

What gets Apple and Google working together? Guess it’s a pandemic.

The world’s two leading mobile device OS providers, with a 99% market share between them, have combined on a historic contact tracing collaboration that also preserves user anonymity. Consider it the network effect (covering almost everyone) for the common good. It’s called the Exposure Notification API and Localogy explains the why and how of it.

In the first phase, a jointly-developed API allows public health departments and governments to add the contact tracking to their own apps, meaning users need to download the app. In the second phase, the API will be integrated in the firmware of both operating systems, meaning it’s embedded in the phone and only needs to be activated. 

It works by tracking a mobile device’s proximity to another mobile device, using the onboard Bluetooth Low Energy transmitters in every smart phone (the same thing that pairs your phone with your vehicle, headphones, etc.) Both companies have prohibited the use of GPS data, so it’s not tracking your location, just your proximity to other devices.

When a user reports a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, the last 14 days of their device’s rotating IDs are relayed through the network to all the other devices that have been in proximity to it. Now you know if you’ve been near a COVID-19 case.  

Apple has issued guidance on how this method of contact tracking preserves privacy.