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Hello Digital looks at the highlights from the week that was.

This week has been jam-packed with announcements from tech’s top firms, including the arrival of Apple’s latest iOS update, the results of LinkedIn’s new “Creator mode” feature, plus the search for a fresh Microsoft default font. Join us for this, and more, in the latest instalment of The Weekly Wrap. 

Apple’s new iOS 14.5 is here with some cool and controversial features 

Earlier this week Apple launched its latest free software update, iOS 14.5, which gives users more control over their devices, including the ability to select a Siri voice that best speaks to them – literally. Replacing the default Siri, the new selection of voices uses Neural Text-to-Speech technology to form more natural sounds along with softer transitions. 

The change is part of Apple’s ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, with the tech giant wanting their product and service design to “better reflect their customers and the world.” Several popular emojis have also been updated to represent couples of different sexualities with different skin tones (as opposed to the standard yellow).

Additionally, Apple users now have the ability to unlock their iPhones with their Apple Watch while wearing a face mask. But don’t get too excited – this Face ID feature only works with iPhone X and Apple Watch 3, as well as all later models.

Another iOS 14.5 feature that isn’t getting a lot of praise is the App Tracking Transparency, which was first announced in June last year. The privacy policy requires apps to obtain the user’s permission before tracking their data or sharing it with other parties for ad-targeting purposes. 

It’s no surprise that the majority of Apple users are expected to opt-out when given the choice, which does raise concerns for marketers wanting to optimise their iOS campaigns; however preliminary insights from Apps Flyer suggests rates may not be as significant as anticipated.

To find out what other new features iOS 14.5 brings, take a look here. 

LinkedIn engagement continues to soar as new features are introduced  

Looks like Apple isn’t the only big name rolling out some exciting additions. Last month LinkedIn announced the launch of “Creator” mode, which helps freelancers display their content more prominently, as well as grow their audience by making them eligible for search and discovery results downstream. 

The platform now also has the option for a video cover story, whereby users can share a quick summary of their skills and experience or promote their services. 

These features seem to have gone down well, with Microsoft reporting that overall sessions are up 29% – a new record level for the social network. 

While exact usage figures are unknown due to Microsoft’s decision to eliminate most of the data available to the public when they took over the platform in 2016, the monthly active user count is estimated to be around 300 million. 

Another possible reason for this spike may be the rise in people looking for jobs after the COVID recession, with LinkedIn providing the perfect place to check whether companies are hiring and connect with recruiters.

The platform isn’t stopping here with the updates though – they also plan on developing Clubhouse-like audio tools to help improve the interactivity between users. Clubhouse, which has risen in popularity over the last few months, allows users to chat in or listen to live audio rooms that specifically match their topics of interest. 

You can read more about LinkedIn’s recent performance and their planned updates here

Microsoft releases a fun request

Get your creative director hat on! Microsoft is finally changing their default Office font and they want the world’s help. Calibri has been the standard font for nearly 15 years, but the company believes it’s time for something new, and so they have created five fonts for the public to choose from. 

The fonts are now available to use on Microsoft 365 so that everyone has a chance to try them before one is selected, which will most likely be via a poll in the upcoming months.

Microsoft will also be closely monitoring the socials for feedback so make sure you have your say on which you love the best. 

Earlier this month, the company introduced a range of new advertising features at their 2021 Summit, which you can read about here on the last Weekly Wrap. 

ACCC threatens to crackdown on Apple & Google app stores 

The Australian competition watchdog has threatened stricter regulations for Apple and Google app stores if they don’t make some changes soon. The App Store and Play Store dominate the global app marketplace and have received quite a lot of criticism from some app makers about their mandatory revenue sharing policies and strict inclusive rules.

In their digital platforms services inquiry interim report, the ACCC called for consumers to be allowed to remove or change the pre-installed or default apps on their phones, and app developers to be able to provide customers with alternative payment options. The report also called for the data that they collect to be kept separate from their other operations.

Apple and Google haven’t officially responded yet, but ACCC chair Rod Sims has said that there is “a window of opportunity for Apple and Google themselves to take steps to improve outcomes for app developers and consumers.” If they fail to take steps though, tighter regulations are likely to be put into place.

Google Ads are changing how Smart Bidding strategies are organised

Google Ads have announced that they will be making changes to how bid strategies are organised in Search campaigns. They revealed that they’ve received a lot of feedback over the years and the change is to help businesses choose the right bid strategy for them. 

The change will affect Smart Bidding, which is a collection of four automated bid strategies that are intended to help advertisers reach conversion and conversion value goals. It means that Target CPA will now be considered a type of maximise conversion bidding and Target ROAS will be considered a type of maximise conversion value bidding. 

Google has reassured users that they will still be able to use Target CPA and Target ROAS as bid strategies, and the changes won’t have any impact to their behaviours. You can read more about the changes on the Google Ads Help centre.