Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.
🎰 The week in figures
$39.7B - Google Play and Apple’s iOS App Store saw $39.7B in global revenue in the first half of the year; up 15.4% YoY; Apple generated $25.5B and Google Play $14.2B; Tinder was the top earner, with $497M across both platforms.
400M - Baidu says its DuerOS voice assistant is now on 400M devices; compares with 150M last November; DuerOS has handled 3.6B queries since launch; the assistant supports 2k skills, up from 600 in May 2018.
~300k - Didi Chuxing removes ~300k drivers from its ride-share platform as part of an initiative to increase safety; the company raised its driver standards and implemented a stricter vetting process following two fatal accidents.
81% - Facial recognition tech used by London’s Metropolitan Police has an 81% failure rate; the Met commissioned the report which found the system incorrectly labeled four in every five people as being suspected of a crime.
48.4% - The Norwegian Road Federation announces that 48.4% of all new vehicles sold in the country during the first half of the year were all-electric; compares with 31.2% for all of 2018; Tesla’s Model 3 was Norway’s top-selling vehicle between January and June of this year; the country leads per-capita electric car sales globally.
📰 What’s going on
Uber Eats launches Dine-In, a feature that lets users order food before they arrive and sit down at a restaurant; the service currently doesn’t charge fees, and restaurant staff get to keep all tips; available in Austin, Dallas, Phoenix, and San Diego.
Amazon launches Skills Connections in general availability for app developers using the Alexa Skills Kit; connections enable skills to outsource some tasks to other skills; initial connections support printing files, arranging transportation, and booking restaurant tables.
Apple plans to make News+ more intuitive and to address various publisher concerns; publisher complaints include low user engagement times (the basis for publisher payments) and significantly less revenue than Apple promised; Apple said consumers are uncertain about which sections are free.
Google plans to launch a new AirDrop-like feature for Android devices; known as Fast Share, the tool will let users send photos, videos, links, and more to other Android devices without requiring NFC or an internet connection; as with Apple’s AirDrop, the system requires Bluetooth; Google introduced Android Beam in 2011, an NFC-based system that lets users transmit content to nearby smartphones.
Google Maps adds live traffic delays for buses and predictions for transit crowdedness; delay updates show how late a bus is expected to be, along with better journey time estimates; the crowdedness tool uses historical journey data to let riders know how busy their journey is likely to be.
Google launches a developer website for its yet-to-launch Fuchsia OS; features details about the OS, including how to develop for it; Fuchsia is still in an experimental phase and currently supported by just a few devices including the Google Pixelbook.
Google open sources its robots.txt parsing and matching library; the system underpins Googlebot, the company’s tool for indexing websites; robots.txt lets sites signal to Google what can and cannot be indexed.
Alphabet’s Loon to launch commercial trials in Kenya in coming weeks in partnership with Telkom Kenya; will offer 4G connectivity at market rates to users living in mountain villages; Loon’s solar-powered balloons provide connectivity in areas where building cell towers isn’t practical.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) tells Amazon and food delivery firm Deliveroo to pause any integration plans; the agency has launched a probe and issued an initial enforcement order which prevents the companies from taking any action that may harm competition; Amazon led a $575M investment in Deliveroo earlier this year.
Samsung launches Bixby Marketplace, a platform for users to find Bixby-compatible services; available in the US and South Korea, the marketplace is accessible via the main Bixby page on supported Samsung devices; includes categories for travel and transportation, food and drink, and shopping.
Lyft adds a bike-sharing option to its app for users in Washington DC and the surrounding area; riders can unlock Capital Bikeshare bikes which are operated by Lyft-owned Motivate; represents the first market where users can book cars, bikes, scooters, and get public transit details via a single app.
Lyft announces its Disaster Relief Access Program, through which the company will assess the conditions of natural disasters and provide free rides to designated areas; will provide free ride codes via nonprofits, local news, and social media; will serve victims, first responders, and volunteers.
India-based ride-hailing firm Ola says it will launch in London this September; the company has received a license from local regulator Transport for London (TfL); Ola already operates in several other British cities including Cardiff, Bath, Liverpool, and Birmingham.
Paris announces new rules for scooter-share users after a light-touch approach led to scooters cluttered on street corners, riders speeding on sidewalks, more; going forward, the city will impose a $40 fine for an improperly parked scooter, a $153 fine for riding on the sidewalk, and operator fees; also set a speed limit of 20 kph.
Mozilla teases an ad-free, $5-per-month news site subscription service, in partnership with multiple publishers; the company is surveying users without disclosing details; in February Mozilla announced it was working with news subscription startup Scroll.
Samsung Electronics CEO DJ Koh expects 5G, IoT, AI, and folding displays will facilitate a consumer shift away from smartphones to wearables; he predicted a seamless transition and said that in ~5 years people won’t realize they’re wearing screens; Koh said foldable smartphones would be a temporary feature of the transition.
China’s Netflix-like iQiyi plans expansion to North America and other Asian countries after announcing it surpassed 100M paid subscribers; expects to make its self-produced Chinese-language content available in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.
Numerous tech firms including HP, Dell, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon are all looking to move some device manufacturing away from mainland China; companies are concerned about trade tensions between the US and China despite recent commitments from both countries to find resolutions; Dell is testing laptop production in Taiwan, while Amazon and Nintendo are looking to move some manufacturing to Vietnam.
Chinese border guards in the Xinjiang region are forcibly installing spyware on Android devices belonging to foreign visitors; known as BXAQ, the app is able to gather text messages, call logs, calendar events, and other files; the data is then transmitted to authorities; Xinjiang is home to the Uighur, a persecuted native Muslim population.
Machine learning has been used to automatically translate long-lost languages. Researchers from MIT and Google’s AI lab have succeeded in translating lost languages by using ML. The challenge now is to tackle other languages that have never been deciphered.
Python for Product Managers. A very simple guide to get started in Python, including how to setup modules for data analysis. The article does not teach you actual syntax, but links to some useful resources for that.
The problems with 5-star rating systems and how to fix them. 5-star ratings are ok for commodity services and products, but far from a great way to measure satisfaction in differentiated marketplaces. HBR looks at what can be done.
Safe Browsing: malware and phishing. This transparency report by Google shows us how phishing sites are growing in detriment of malware ones.
Improvement by Subtraction. James Clear on how to make big gains by avoiding tiny losses.
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