Health IS Technology Blog

Google Launches AMP: Accelerated Mobile Pages Project


“Right now, we are in the very early stages of a new type of war that is part platform, part format and in which each party (e.g. Google, Facebook, Apple, etc.) will leverage its unique strengths to maneuver itself into the best possible position,” ~ Christian Cantrell

Mobile News: AMP

Mobile News: AMP

At this point in time, just about everyone who’s anyone in America owns a smartphone. These tiny devices, from the Apple iPhone 7 to the Samsung Galaxy S5 and every mobile device in between, have been effectively reshaping the way we connect, communicate and collaborate for some time. And that fact hasn’t slipped past our favorite tech heavyweights, Google, Facebook and Apple. In fact all three have recently come up with their own unique online strategy to tap into this massive market of mobile users, with Google unleashing the third and arguably most powerful tool, yet: The AMP Project. Let’s explore what AMP’s are, how they work and how they’ll impact you this year.

What Are AMP’s?

Google’s AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, which can be quickly summarized as the digital tool which will allow you to enjoy reading and viewing online content via your mobile phone, just as well as you can on your desktop or laptop. So, what exactly does Google have to say for itself about this innovation?

“Today, after discussions with publishers and technology companies around the world, we’re announcing a new open source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages, which aims to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web. We want webpages with rich content to load instantaneously and we also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant—no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using. The project relies on AMP HTML, a new open framework built entirely out of existing web technologies, which allows websites to build light-weight webpages. Over time we anticipate that other Google products such as Google News will also integrate AMP HTML pages. And today we’re announcing that nearly 30 publishers from around the world are taking part too. TwitterPinterestWordPress.comChartbeatParse.lyAdobe Analytics and LinkedIn are among the first group of technology partners planning to integrate AMP HTML pages,” (Google, Oct. 2015).

This is happening in part because of the powerful effect of individual consumers spurring innovation within the tech sector markets. These mobile device wielding consumers are the focus for the AMP Project. Think about what that all means for a moment. You won’t be waiting forever for pages to render bit by bit. You won’t have to awkwardly navigate pages that are basically too large for your tiny phone screen. The web content you decide to view through your phone will actually work as though it were originally made for a mobile device. Signed, sealed, delivered, it’s yours, and it’s faster than ever.

But Google is not alone. “Three major channels are making strides to normalize the format and structure of web content presented through their user interface,” (Agency Oasis, Dec. 2015):

  • From Facebook we’ve earned ‘Instant Articles’, which has already been used for content distribution by both the hugely popular New York Times and The Guardian news organizations
  • From Apple we’ve earned ‘Apple News’ app, which promised beautifully, rich content viewing for iPhone users, everywhere
  • And now, Google has announced the Accelerated Mobile Pages or AMP Project

All three of these projects are designed with one goal in mind and that is to increase end-user satisfaction by enabling faster page loading and consistent formats for mobile content.

 

How Do AMP’s Work?

Google hasn’t released everything there is to know about their accelerated mobile pages, just yet but we know two critically key details, already (The How and The Why):

  • The How: “For many, reading on the mobile web is a slow, clunky and frustrating experience – but it doesn’t have to be that way. The Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project is an initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere. AMP is a way to build web pages for static content that render fast. AMP in action consists of three different parts: AMP HTML, AMP JS & AMP CDN. AMP HTML is HTML with some restrictions for reliable performance and some extensions for building rich content beyond basic HTML. The AMP JS library ensures the fast rendering of AMP HTML pages. And the AMP CDN (optionally) delivers the AMP HTML pages” (AMP Project, Feb. 2016).
  • The Why: “Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a global, industry-wide initiative, with publishers large and small all focused on the same goal: a better, faster mobile web. Over the next few weeks, we will subsequently dive into the technical specs and various components of AMP including Analytics, Paywalls, Ads, and Format Innovation. To learn more check out the lineup of the Friday hangouts,” (AMP Project, Feb. 2016):
    • Friday, Feb 19: Ads in AMP w/ Craig DiNatali, Director of Ads [Event]
    • Friday, Feb 26: Format Innovation in AMP w/ Rudy Galfi, Product Manager [Event]

 

How Will AMP’s Impact You?

AMP

AMP

For the most part AMP’s bring nothing but good news for smartphone users, especially those that are constantly on-the-go (e.g. students, business professionals) and more reliant on their phones for both basic business (e.g. business blogging, report reviewing, etc.) and entertainment needs. As a direct result of AMP’s, you should now be able to load, view and digest information with greater speed and on-screen clarity. However, as this is a project of Google’s specifically, it will work best with their mobile Chrome browser. If you’re using something like mobile Safari or anything that ties in with Apple’s products (i.e. Google’s competitor), then you won’t see the same effects without first adding an extension to allow it to properly function.

Further, if you’re a professional content distributor interested in increasing or maintaining visitor traffic to your web page(s), then an AMP centered distribution strategy for the web will need to be implemented in order to avoid traffic loss. Google has already indicated that they are supportive of mobile-friendliness and will undoubtedly be sending more mobile traffic to the new accelerated mobile pages: “In fact, Google has indicated that it will begin sending traffic to AMP pages from Google Search on mobile as early as late February 2016. Discovery and curation engines such as Pinterest may also choose to start directing mobile traffic to AMP pages. Finally, websites can redirect their own mobile traffic from responsive versions of articles to their AMP counterparts,” (Smashing Magazine, Feb. 2016).

 

A Final Note: Inclusivity Always Wins The End-Game

While Facebook and Apple are both offering their own version of this content experience through their specific applications, Google has taken another, more open-source route outside of the app realm, which potentially changes the game that others began just a few months prior. “AMP documents are designed to be rendered either in the browser or in WebViews. AMP documents are complete and independent documents that live on your own web server, rather than collections of metadata that will at some point be transformed into articles and rendered in apps. The fact that AMP documents are more or less standard HTML that will render in any modern browser is, in my opinion, a huge advantage (AMP is far more open and inclusive than Facebook Instant Articles or Apple News),” (Smashing Magazine, Feb. 2016).

So you’ve heard quite a bit about these freshly launched AMP options here but to understand anything you need to experience it. So to go explore AMP for yourself, you can view Google’s search demo and even try it out firsthand with your mobile phone at g.co/ampdemo.

Have fun and happy computing!


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