Local Memo: Twitter to Be Renamed “X”
In this week’s update, learn about Twitter’s rebranding; Apple Maps’ growing popularity; Apple’s foray into generative AI; Google’s ChatGPT rival; ChatGPT’s new custom instructions; the danger of using AI for YMYL content; and Yelp’s launch of numerical ratings.
Twitter to Be Renamed “X”
In a move that will come as a surprise to many, though it purportedly represents the next step in a long-term strategy for Elon Musk, Twitter will soon take on the new name “X.” Alongside the name change, Musk reports that Twitter’s familiar blue branding will be replaced with black and that a tweet will be known henceforth as an “x.”
X Corp is already the name of the Musk entity that owns Twitter, and Musk has long envisioned X as the brand for an “everything app” that would combine payments, social media, and entertainment. The rebranding appears to be imminent, with Musk tweeting on Sunday that the “interim X logo” was about to go live and that x.com is now redirecting to twitter.com.
Interim X logo goes live later today.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 23, 2023
Apple Maps Grows in Popularity
Though Apple Maps had a rocky start back in 2012, with many users complaining of errors in mapping and navigation, the Wall Street Journal reports that its “clear public transit directions and its visually appealing design” are just some of the reasons more users are turning to the app these days.
Users interviewed for the article point to a cleaner, more user-friendly interface as the reason for preferring Apple Maps over Google. User experience consultant Peter Ramsey notes that, with Apple Maps providing the link to directions for apps like Yelp and FindMy, many iPhone users have stopped switching over to Google and are trusting Apple as their default navigation service.
Apple Enters Generative AI Arena
In other Apple news, the company appears to be jumping into the generative AI arena with a chatbot that is being referred to as “Apple GPT.” According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple has built an AI framework called Ajax to power the new chatbot. The company may also be using feedback from user interactions with Siri to help train its model, a procedure that is hinted at in Siri’s terms of service. It’s unclear as yet when Apple might start introducing generative AI into its products and services, which, if successful, could represent a threat to numerous third-party AI services currently offered in the App Store.
Google DeepMind Working on ChatGPT Rival, with Help from Sergey Brin
Google co-founder Sergey Brin has reportedly been personally involved in Google’s recent AI initiatives, including Google DeepMind’s effort to build a ChatGPT rival called Gemini. The Gemini model was mentioned by Google at this year’s I/O conference, where the company referred to it as “created from the ground up to be multimodal, highly efficient at tool and API integrations and built to enable future innovations, like memory and planning.” The Wall Street Journal has reported that Google will unveil Gemini to the public sometime this year, with plans to make the technology available at various levels.
Google is also reportedly working on an unrelated project called Genesis that can, according to the New York Times, absorb the “details of current events” in order to “generate news copy.” The company has described Genesis as a research assistant for journalists that is not intended to replace their expertise. Google has showcased the tool to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal.
ChatGPT Unveils Custom Instructions
OpenAI is rolling out a new feature for ChatGPT called “custom instructions.” The feature has been launched in beta for Plus users and will soon roll out to free ChatGPT users as well. With custom instructions, users can add preferences or requirements that ChatGPT will remember when the user is logged in and using the service. For example, you might enter a custom instruction that content should be geared to third graders learning about science. All of ChatGPT’s responses would then reference this instruction, so that users won’t be required to repeat it at the start of every chat. OpenAI says the feature was developed in response to user input about “the friction of starting each ChatGPT conversation afresh.”
An example of custom instructions, courtesy OpenAI
Use AI for Content – But Not YMYL Content
A helpful post from Jo O’Reilly on Search Engine Land points out that, while AI-generated content might be fine for many general uses, it should not be utilized to provide expertise on so-called “your money or your life” (YMYL) topics. Google considers YMYL topics, such as health and financial advice, to be worthy of especially strict scrutiny when deciding how to rank websites according to their content. When writing about this type of subject matter, authors of web content should exhibit characteristics referred to by Google with the acronym E-E-A-T: expertise, experience, authority, and trustworthiness. Unfortunately, scammers are already using AI to peddle content that is represented as being written by doctors and others with expertise on topics that can threaten user safety if misrepresented.
Yelp Launches Numerical Ratings
Yelp has launched a modification to its ratings system whereby ratings will now be shown to users in increments of a tenth of a star. Previously, Yelp only displayed the star rating as a graphic, rounded to the nearest half-star. Now, Yelp will show a numerical value next to the star graphic that indicates the average rating rounded to the nearest tenth of a star. Yelp says it is making this change in order to make it easier for consumers to quickly compare businesses whose ratings might otherwise look similar.
For example, a business with a 3.8 average and a business with a 4.2 average would both have been shown in the past as having a 4-star rating; now, consumers will be able to see that the latter business is ranked more highly. It’s still true that only the reviews Yelp deems “recommended” will be included in the calculation of average rating.