Friday Five: Twitter redesigns and tennis-loving AIs

Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…

1. Twitter redesign scratches seven-year itch

As you may have noticed, Twitter rolled out its first desktop redesign in seven years this week. There aren’t a lot of drastic updates — no, there’s still no edit button — but there are more customisation options, some visual tweaks and a rearranged navigation experience, including a new Explore page.

As this article reveals, Twitter asked itself how well it was serving the public conversation, and this redesign set out to answer that question. It won’t solve the platform’s much publicised problems with harassment, hate speech and misinformation, but Twitter wants its users to know that it really is listening to them.

2. Tennis-appreciating AI is a smash hit

IBM unveiled its latest technology at Wimbledon earlier this month — a tennis-loving AI that can pick out the exciting moments from a match and edit them into a highlights package, ready to be pushed online as soon as the players leave the court. It does this by calculating excitement, based on factors such as the roar of the crowd, fist-pumping celebrations and analysing game statistics.

This groundbreaking tech is particularly useful at SW19, where 18 matches are taking place at the same time and producing hundreds of hours of content, but can also be used by coaches and players to improve their game and could even be used to edit match footage for fans based on their own personal preferences.

3. Facebook forced to tackle ad scammers

It may have taken a defamation lawsuit to kick them into action, but Facebook has now launched a tool for UK users to report ads they suspect of being scams. Consumer champion Martin Lewis had announced his intention to sue Facebook after becoming exasperated by the number of fake ads on social media using his image to trick users into parting with their cash.

Lewis agreed to drop the suit after Facebook said it would create a reporting tool and donate £3m to Citizens Advice for an anti-scam project. It’s only in the UK for now but at least it’s a step in the right direction — albeit one that Facebook has only taken because it had to, thanks to the determination of Lewis.

4. Minecraft Earth set to be an AR building block

There’s no doubt that augmented reality is now mainstream — witness the popularity of Snapchat lenses and Facebook’s Spark, not to mention Pokémon Go — but Zone’s creative strategic director, Matt Weiner, thinks AR is about to become an invaluable marketing tool thanks to Minecraft Earth.

The game allows users to build life-size creations and then walk through them. Weiner believes this will not only inspire creativity in the minds of marketers as they grasp the huge potential of AR to deliver not just short-lived chatter, but genuinely valuable consumer experiences and ROI.

5. Inclusive emojis get the big reveal

It was World Emoji Day on Wednesday, and whether you’ve always been an enthusiast or are a slightly reluctant emojier (not strictly speaking a word, but give it time) there are few among us who haven’t used a 🙂or 😂 in dispatches. To celebrate the day, Apple and Android provided a look at a selection of new designs, including a wheelchair user, people with walking sticks and a hearing aid.

Apple has been keen to stress that the emojis should be seen as a starting point for better representation and diversity within the emoji world. And while emojis may just be seen as a bit of fun, anything that provides a more inclusive experience for all gets a 👏from the Friday Five.

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