Digital Down Low: JULY 30 – AUGUST 5
Welcome to Facebook’s Area 404
- According to Tech Insider, Facebook CEO and all-around wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg can do a lot of things. But Zuck can’t use the steel-cutting, 60,000 PSI water jets in Area 404 — Facebook’s brand new, 22,000 square foot hardware laboratory — because he’s not one of the ten or so Facebook employees authorized to even get in the room with them, for safety reasons. The big idea behind Area 404 is to provide one big space for all of the social network’s various teams, including the still-very-mysterious denizens of Building 8, to apply the “Move Fast and Break Things” philosophy to making real physical objects, not just software.
- Rather than rely on outside contractors and far-off factories to build their stuff, with Area 404, Facebook now has the facilities, including those serious-business water jets, to prototype and build that hardware in-house. Better yet, it’s tucked into a concrete-reinforced bunker nestled right in Facebook’s main Silicon Valley campus. That’s important, as Facebook moves beyond its ongoing efforts to build better servers for itself and into making 3D virtual reality cameras, flying internet-laser drones, and the experimental Terragraph high-speed wireless internet system. It also means that Area 404 is going to be the place where the first versions of Facebook’s coolest, craziest, and most world-changing inventions will be made. Once fully operational, the stuff that goes on in Area 404 will be above top secret.
- The new 22,000 square-foot facility, available to any Facebook team, was dubbed Area 404, in honor of the infamous HTTP 404 error for “website not found”. Much of Area 404 is office space, where designers and modelers use computer aided design, or CAD, tools to make 3D models of the parts and tools that they want to build. There’s also a big electronics engineering area. “Not only is this space good for new things,” explains Facebook Engineering and Infrastructure head Jay Parikh, “as we continue to experiment and try things out we need to be ready for our failures too.”
Samsung Pass Secures Banks In A Blink Of An Eye
- According to Mashable, six major banks have partnered with Samsung to improve banking security measures with the Galaxy Note 7, Samsung Senior Vice President Justin Denison announced at Samsung Unpacked on Tuesday. Even cooler, it involves eye scanners. After growing concerns that fingerprint scanners may not be so secure, after having been hacked with a printer, the Note 7’s iris scanner feature promises added security to third-party apps through Samsung Pass.
- Samsung Pass will act as a password manager of sorts and will let users lock access to apps, folders and documents with their eyes. Samsung is also working with six banks — more to come —to protect access to your bank with the iris scanner. Currently it is available with Bank of America, Citi, US Bank, KEB Hana, Shinhan and Woori.
- Fingerprint scanners aren’t necessarily going away, and you can still use them for now. But the iris scanner may well take over as the preferred security measure across Samsung Pay, Knox and any personal files in the Note 7’s Secure folder (which Denison announced can also be made invisible to others). There is no word on when Samsung Pass will be available, but we hope to see it in the next few weeks.
Google Rolls Out Extra-Long Ads!
- According to Search Engine Land, Google has officially launched expanded text ads. The extra-long ads with double headlines began rolling out in late July. The rollout comes along with the availability of device bidding and responsive display ads for native that were first announced at Google Performance Summit in May.
- As Sundeep Jain, who oversees text ads at Google, told the audience at SMX Advanced in June, existing standard ads will continue to run alongside expanded text ads (ETAs). As of October 26, 2016, however, advertisers will no longer be able to create or upload standard text ads. Google has not set a date when standard ads will no longer run with ETAs, but Jain noted advertisers should have sufficient time to test standard and expanded ad formats against each other to ensure they are properly using ETAs. In other words, the expectation is that advertisers will run A/B tests with standard and expanded text ads for a period.
- Even as it rolls out these new controls, Google is pushing its automated bidding tools — now under the umbrella of Smart Bidding — and recommending that advertisers not go back to separating their campaigns by device type. Automated bidding will soon take advantage of the device separation as well, initially with the ability to set Target CPA by device. Despite Google’s downplaying this new manual functionality, there’s likely to be quite a bit of experimentation in this area among advertisers that have the expertise and resources to test new campaign structures now feasible with separate device bidding.