Apple Stepping Up Plans for Amazon Echo-Style Smart-Home Device (Bloomberg News)

Amazon’s table-top Echo device that controls appliances, answers search questions and plays music is a surprise hit and Apple now has a competing product in the prototype stage. So interesting that, despite everybody relying more and more on mobile phones, there’s apparently a lot of demand for yet another digital assistant type device.

Facebook Adds Polls, Payments Chat Assist Function to Messenger (SocialTimes)

The social media giant continues to build out its messaging app with features that may some day give small businesses big-business capabilities to handle customer service, thanks to artificial intelligence (see Facebook’s Future: Your Customer Service Bot).

Snapchat ‘Spectacles’ Take the Popular App off the Phone and on to the Face (Dex Media Blog)

The hugely popular social media app (now bigger than Twitter) branches out to sunglasses with a built in video camera, maybe a move into the “augmented reality” space pioneered by Pokemon Go, the app that made little creatures seem to appear in reality to mobile phone users (and launched a big fad last summer).

Facebook and Google Get Closer to Tracking Ads to Store Visits (Dex Media Blog)

“Online to offline marketing” keeps moving forward, with Google improving the location tracking of its display network ads and Facebook also improving its store visits tracking and measurement.

Money Grows on Trees with Google (Mike Blumenthal)

From Make Google Fast Cash to Growing Rich with Google, a ridiculous list of over-promising company names for consultants, compiled by Mike Blumenthal (a respected local search consultant and Google expert).  If any of them call, hang up.