Salesforce Customer Data Platform begins to take shape

Salesforce announced it is making progress toward releasing a Customer Data Platform (CDP) this week at Salesforce Connections in Chicago. While the company is talking in greater detail about the platform, they are calling Customer 360, it won’t be available for pilot customers until this Fall.

The idea behind the CDP isn’t all that different from good old-fashioned CRM, but instead of using a single source of data in a single database, Salesforce’s bread-and-butter product, it draws upon a variety of sources. Martin Khin, SVP for product strategy at Salesforce Marketing Cloud says that the company found that the average customer uses 15 significant sources of data to build a much more comprehensive picture of the customer.

In the 1990s, tracking customer data in a CRM was a fairly straightforward process. You had basic information like company name, address, phone number, main contacts and perhaps a listing of what each customer purchased, but as it has become increasingly crucial to gather enough data to fully understand the customer, it takes a richer set of data.

This whole area of creating a central database like a CDP is something that Salesforce, Adobe and others have begun to discuss in the last year. When you’re dealing with multiple sources of data, it becomes much more than a customer tracking problem. It becomes a serious data integration issue as the data is coming from a variety of disparate sources.

Khin says it comes down to pulling three main areas together. The first is identity management, in the sense that you have to be able to stitch together who this person is as he or she moves across the different data sources. It’s crucial to understand that this is the same individual in each channel and interaction, regardless of the system where the interaction occurs, and even if the customer started out without identifying themselves.

Once you have that identity foundation, which is the key to all of this, you can begin to build that 360 degree picture in the CDP, and with that, you can engage with the customer across multiple channels in a more intelligent way, based on actual detailed data about the person.

If the idea is to provide increasingly customized interactions, it requires as much data as you can gather to offer customized messages across each medium. The danger here is that you’re building a complete picture of each consumer in a central database, which in itself becomes a central point of failure. If a hacker were to breach that database, the prize would be a huge treasure trove of personal customer information.

Khin says Salesforce recognizes this of course, and cites Chairman Marc Benioff’s trust mantra. If that happened, it would be a huge breach of customer trust (and of their customers) and while it’s impossible to full protect any database, Salesforce considers security a huge priority.

The other issue is privacy around this information, especially in light of GDPR customer privacy rules in Europe, and other privacy initiatives coming down the pike in other countries. Khin says Salesforce customers have permission toggles they can turn on or off, depending on the region they are in.

For now, the Salesforce CDP is taking another step towards becoming an actual product. On the plus side, it could mean more meaningful, highly targeted marketing, but on the negative side, it’s a lot of personal information sitting in one place, and that’s something that every vendor building a CDP needs to take into consideration.

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Smartphone camera bumps, ranked

How far will phone makers go with their camera bumps?
How far will phone makers go with their camera bumps?
Image: bob al-greene / mashable

Some people hate that new phones don’t have headphone jacks, or that they have notches, or that they still keep getting bigger.

But we think the most offensive phone element has been hiding in plain sight: camera bumps.

These hideous protrusions have always been an eyesore, popping out of the backside of phones for years, and they’re only getting uglier with every new model. 

With this year’s new iPhones and the Pixel 4 expected to get arguably the largest and most displeasing camera bumps we’ve ever seen, we figured now’s the perfect time to rank them. 

As always, we’re using a ranking system that makes the most sense: 🐪 (it was only natural, right?), with five being the most worst and one being the best.

You sure as hell didn’t ask for this, but here’s smartphone cameras bumps, ranked, anyway!

12. iPhone XS 2

What the iPhone XS 2 is expected to look like based on rumors.

What the iPhone XS 2 is expected to look like based on rumors.

Tons of leaks and rumors have reportedly revealed what this year’s new iPhones will look like. The TL;DR? Similar design glass and metal design to the iPhone XS and XS Max, but with a much larger camera bump on the back to accommodate a third (presumably ultra-wide) camera. The huge camera bump was first leaked in January by Steve Hemmerstoffer, aka @OnLeaks. Of all the camera bumps, it looks to be the most egregious with three cameras arranged in triangle inside of a square protrusion. It’s big, weird, and very un-Apple-like. Hopefully it looks way better in person than it does in concept renders.

Grade: 🐪🐪🐪🐪🐪

11. Google Pixel 4

Google confirmed the Pixel 4 will have a square-shaped camera bump with two cameras.

Google confirmed the Pixel 4 will have a square-shaped camera bump with two cameras.

Image: google

Google’s Pixel 4 hasn’t launched yet. However, in a rare move, the tech giant shared an image of the upcoming phone months ahead of its expected release. Visible front and off in the corner: a massive camera bump with what looks like two cameras, an LED flash, and the rumored “spectral sensor.” It’s impossible to say how the Pixel 4’s square camera bump compares to the one on this year’s iPhone XS and XR successors. One thing is for sure: with fewer lenses, it may not look as weird.

Grade: 🐪🐪🐪🐪🐪

10. Huawei P30 Pro

That's one huge camera bump.

That’s one huge camera bump.

Image: stan schroeder / mashable

However you feel about Huawei or its phones, one thing you can’t ignore is the gigantic camera bump located on the back of its flagship P30 Pro. The camera bump’s one of the largest and longest we’ve seen on a smartphone so far. If Huawei continues adding more cameras, the eventual P40 and P50 Pro will just have one super long pill-shaped camera bump running down the right side. We’re praying that never happens.

Grade: 🐪🐪🐪🐪

9. Samsung Galaxy Fold

Delayed for a diet.

Delayed for a diet.

Image: Stan schroeder / mashable

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is delayed indefinitely. Good, because its camera bump could use a major diet. The Galaxy Fold’s already the thickness of two phones when folded up, so why is there even a camera bump? On such a thick phone, it’s basically a crime to even have one at all.

Grade: 🐪🐪🐪🐪

8. Red Hydrogen One

Anyone else see a 😧?

Anyone else see a 😧?

Image: raymond wong / mashable

Cinema camera maker Red’s first smartphone, the Hydrogen One, was the worst product of 2018 in our opinion and an absolute trainwreck of a phone that nobody should buy. But despite its chunky-ass construction, terrible “4D holographic display,” and weak camera image quality, the camera bump is perhaps the least offensive thing about the device. Sure, it’s large and occupies almost a third of the back, but it’s still thin enough to not wobble on a flat surface.

Grade: 🐪🐪🐪

7. OnePlus 7 Pro

Sleek, but bumpy.

Sleek, but bumpy.

Image: zlata ivleva / mashable

The OnePlus 7 Pro is a gorgeous phone. It’s a little thick, but still a hot device. What’s not so sexy is the long camera bump on the back — the straight edge is sharper than it looks in photos and easily collects dust. Also, the telephoto lens (the lowest one) can easily be covered up with your index finger when the phone’s held in portrait mode.

Grade: 🐪🐪🐪

6. Sony Xperia 1

It's all in the details.

It’s all in the details.

Image: raymond wong / mashable

Similar to the OnePlus 7 Pro’s center-aligned camera bump, the Sony Xperia 1’s contains three cameras. Ultimately, the Xperia 1’s camera bump narrowly edged out the OnePlus 7 Pro’s purely because the edge is chamfered and less sharp, and the LED flash can’t be covered with your index finger. Details matter!

Grade: 🐪🐪🐪

5. iPhone XS

Next year's iPhone might come with a very powerful 3D camera.

Next year’s iPhone might come with a very powerful 3D camera.

Image: Lili Sams/Mashable

I love the versatility of the iPhone XS’s dual cameras (wide and 2x telephoto), but I hate that the pill-shaped camera bump design has spread like wildfire to other phones. If there’s any one phone to blame for normalizing camera bumps, it was the iPhone X. One the bright side: the bump’s one of the smallest (for now).

Grade: 🐪🐪🐪

4. Samsung Galaxy S10+

A horizontal camera bump looks sleek.

A horizontal camera bump looks sleek.

Image: Zlata ivleva / mashable

All four of Samsung’s Galaxy S10 phones have a rectangular camera bump module that includes anywhere between 2-4 cameras, an LED flash, and a heart rate sensor. Aligned parallel with the Samsung logo, the camera bump is unique enough that you won’t mistake it for an iPhone or OnePlus.

Grade: 🐪🐪🐪

3. Huawei Mate 20 Pro

It's a sizable camera bump, but at least the cameras are all symmetrically aligned.

It’s a sizable camera bump, but at least the cameras are all symmetrically aligned.

Image: stan schroeder / mashable

Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro gets credit for being the first smartphone to use a square-shaped camera bump. Positioned in the middle, the camera bump houses three cameras (wide, ultra-wide, and telephoto) and an LED flash. The camera bump’s sizable, but because the cameras and flash are symmetrical and the placement of the whole module is in the center instead of the corner, it actually looks handsome.

Grade: 🐪🐪

2. Nokia 9 PureView

How many camera does one phone need?

How many camera does one phone need?

Image: zlata ivleva / mashable

The Nokia 9 PureView really could’ve been a great phone. Sadly, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip just wasn’t enough to stitch together images from the phone’s five rear cameras. That said, props to Nokia for cramming five cameras, a time-of-flight (ToF) 3D depth sensor, and an LED flash into the backside without the help of any camera bumps. If not for the barely raised ring around the LED flash, the Nokia 9 PureView would’ve took home the top prize.

Grade: 🐪

1. LG G8 ThinQ

The LG G8 ThinQ is one of few phones with cameras that are flush with the body.

The LG G8 ThinQ is one of few phones with cameras that are flush with the body.

Image: raymond wong / mashable

1. The LG G8 ThinQ’s gimmicky air gesture won’t win many people over and the rest of the phone is pretty skippable, but one thing it nails is the camera bump. There is none! Somehow, LG managed to include two cameras that are flush with the phone’s body. It’s not even like the 8.4mm (0.33 inch) body is super thick or anything, either. If there’s any one feature Apple or Samsung or Huawei should steal, it’s this beautiful flush camera design.

Grade: 😁

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‘Pokémon Go’ creator buys hybrid board game company Sensible Object

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Kim Kyung Hoon / Reuters

Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go, is up to something — but exactly what is yet to be revealed. Following a number of AR and game company acquisitions over the last 18 months, Niantic has now purchased London-based Sensible Object, a games developer probably best known for blurring the lines between digital and table-top gaming.

Sensible Object’s debut offering, Beasts of Balance, saw players immersed in a fantasy world where their physical, stackable creations translated to digital points-scoring. The company’s follow-up series, Voice Originals, cast Alexa in the role of games master, guiding players through adventures such as When In Rome, another hybrid board game.

So what does Niantic want with Sensible Object? Its highly-anticipated AR Harry Potter mobile game is expected this year and is already being tested, so the company’s interest in Sensible Object is based on something else. Sensible Object’s NFC-driven Beasts of Balance animals are pretty cute — could similar physical Pokémon be on the way? Watch this space.

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Palm is selling an unlocked version of its tiny smartphone

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Chris Velazco/Engadget

As much as Palm’s tiny phone has improved over the past several months, there’s still been one glaring limitation: you’ve had to use it on Verizon (Engadget’s parent company) in the US. You won’t have to be quite so picky after today. Palm has opened pre-orders for an unlocked version of the minuscule Android device that will work as a stand-alone phone on most major US carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile and the prepaid Metro brand. No, there’s no mention of Sprint — ironically, the home of the original Palm Pre won’t get this device a decade later.

The handset is functionally identical to the one available through Big Red, for better or for worse. It was initially meant as a “secondary” phone for times when you didn’t want to lug around a full device, and its 3.2-inch display, Snapdragon 435 chip, limited cameras and shorter battery life reflect that. As an independent device, it’s really meant for those who hate ever-growing phone screens or prefer something that can do slightly more than the basics.

An unlocked model will cost you $350, with pre-orders expected to ship six to eight weeks. That’s certainly more affordable than some phones, although it’s not what we’d call a budget proposition. You can snag phones from Motorola and others that do considerably more and cost less. Palm’s model is really for people who value miniaturization and focus above all else, and are willing to pay for the privilege.

Verizon owns Engadget’s parent company, Verizon Media. Rest assured, Verizon has no control over our coverage. Engadget remains editorially independent.

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Roli's light-up Lumi keyboard teaches you how to play

Roli has been making unconventional electronic music instruments for about a decade now. Its Seaboard series take the traditional keyboard design and infuse it with some notable tricks, like pressure-sensitive keys that allow for far more modulation effects than you can do on a piano. Its series of modular Blocks gadgets take that pressure-sensitive surface in another direction, combining the features of a synth and drum pad into a much more affordable device than the company had released before.

However, Roli has never made a traditional keyboard before, until now. At first glance, the 24-key Lumi looks very much like any other MIDI keyboard out there, albeit one without any bezel to speak of. But, as this is a Roli product, the Lumi isn’t meant to just be another small keyboard. The Lumi’s keys all light up via internal LEDs, and those lights match up with a Lumi app for iOS and Android that’s meant to teach users how to play. The app, meanwhile, more than a hundred songs players can learn, including songs from big-name artists like Beyoncé and Pharrell.

As you might expect, the colored keys provide a guide to new players. But rather than start out doing scales, the Lumi app lets you dive right in to those pop songs as a way to provide some instant gratification. For example, I got to play a little of the indelible Europe classic “The Final Countdown.” If you’ve watched any Arrested Development over the years, you’ll know it kicks off with a prominent, memorable synth line — a perfect and simple melody for someone new to a keyboard to play.

Lumi gets you right into it with a timeline of notes that float by on the display of your device. (You’re best off using this with an iPad; the extra screen real estate makes the experience significantly better.) If you’ve ever played Guitar Hero, you’ll be right at home. The colored notes correspond with the colors of the keys on the Lumi — play them in time with the display, and you’ll quickly be jamming along to the song. The closer you get to nailing the performance, the more “points” you’ll get.

The Lumi app offers more than just these simple, one-note melody-style tracks, though. From what I saw when demoing the system, songs will have several modes to play along with, from easier melodies to more intricate chords (depending on the song, of course). The software also can teach players music — while you can start with the simple, abstract Guitar Hero interface, other modes show a traditional music staff, but the notes will still be colored to give you a reference to the keys. From there, you can add in timing, as well, eventually transforming the experience to a standard musical notation system.

Roli Lumi keyboard

Beyond letting you play along with songs you’ll recognize, the Lumi app will also mix in lessons in playing technique, scales, chords and so on. That’ll be important if you want to take your keyboard skills to another level. When I was demoing the Lumi, I found myself not quite remembering exactly where my fingers should be — fortunately, there’s a lesson for that.

As for the hardware, the Lumi keyboard uses the same “DNA” connector found on Roli’s Blocks lineup. This means you can link multiple Lumi keyboards together to give yourself a bigger performance space; the bezel-less design means that transitioning from one keyboard to the next should be a seamless process. You can also link other Roli Blocks up and use the Lumi as a straight MIDI keyboard with the Roli Studio Player app or DAWs including Garageband, Ableton and Logic Pro. Having some room to grow beyond the basics here certainly makes the Lumi more appealing.


Roli

Of course, the Lumi hardware needs to feel good for players to want to keep using it. I can’t vouch too strongly for that yet, as I was using pre-production hardware that just didn’t quite feel ready for prime time. But from a spec perspective, the Lumi has a key plunge distance of 10mm, which Roli says is 92 percent of what you’ll find on a grand piano. That should go a long way towards making the Lumi feel “right” when playing it. The keys themselves aren’t full-size, but the DS5.5 size means they’re about 7/8ths size; this helps to keep Lumi small and portable while offering a key size that should be comfortable for a large range of people.

As for the launch strategy, Roli is taking Lumi to Kickstarter today; the keyboard will start at $250. It’s always a little odd to see an established company take the Kickstarter route, but Roli says that it’s doing so to take advantage of the tech-savvy community that’s often on the lookout for offbeat products. The company thinks it’ll find a different audience than those that are already familiar with Roli’s brand, and said that if it was doing the Blocks launch over again it might have picked Kickstarter as well. The Lumi is expected to ship to those who pre-order on Kickstarter by October, and Roli says it’ll be available at more traditional retailers this fall as well.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Nathan is the deputy managing editor at Engadget, keeping track of the site’s daily news operations and covering Google, Apple, gaming, apps and weird internet culture. He now lives in Philadelphia after stints in Boston and San Francisco.

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