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theEweekly Wrap – Google, Apple and FourSquare

Lick of paint Google annoyed nearly everyone in the SEO industry this week after revealing a new homepage style. The design, which drew widespread criticism after its release yesterday, removed the calm and comforting background of Google’s site, replacing it with a random image (or if users log in, a picture of their choice).

“To provide you with an extra bit of inspiration, we‘ve collaborated with several well-known artists, sculptors and photographers to create a gallery of background images you can use to personalize your Google homepage,” read the official Google blog.

Many SEOers were quick to point out the search engine seemed to be following Microsoft’s lead on the design change. Indeed, Bing has been offering the same feature since its launch in 2009.

The change did not go unnoticed over in the Microsoft camp either, with Ashley Highfield, managing director of Microsoft’s consumer division in the UK, saying:

“Imitation, however pale, is the sincerest form of flattery.”

Four is the magic number It came as little surprise to find out that Apple had a new version of the iPhone in the works. The new model, which was announced this week by head Apple Steve Jobs, had already been leaked into the public domain after a tester had lost the handset in a bar.

Still, while none of the iPhone 4’s specifications came as a shock, the phone was well received by the media. You can read more about the new model in a special theEword news story by SEO copywriter Carli Harris.

In related news, UK telecom giant O2 annoyed a large proportion of its Apple subscriber base by announcing data caps for iPhone 4 users. While 3G owners had previously enjoyed unlimited data transfer on existing contracts, those hoping to purchase the latest Apple model will have to limit their mobile browsing to under 500Mbs or 750Mbs, depending on their package.

Four Snub The Chinese government embraced one of the latest social media channels last week, blocking users from accessing popular geo-tagging game FourSquare.

Beijing took the option to ban the location-based service, which sees individuals post their whereabouts to friends, after it became apparent users were leaving messages of condolence when ‘checking into’ Tiananmen Square, site of the 1989 protests.

The decision to block the site coincided with the 21st anniversary of the event which saw the death of over 3,000 students and demonstrators. While it is illegal to discuss the incident in public, dissidents of the communist regime often protest using social networking sites.

Indeed, this is not the first occasion where the government has restricted access to the internet and, in 2009, users were unable to access Twitter, Hotmail or Flickr over the anniversary of the massacre.

Written by Tom Mason

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