el producto #136 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Spotify Siri support, Huawei maps, Deliveroo leaves Germany, New Twitter features, Sega Genesis Mini, Top books for Product people & more.

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🎰 The week in figures

$2B: Alibaba to acquire China-based e-commerce Kaola for $2B; sells apparel, household goods, etc; Amazon’s China unit was in talks to merge with Kaola.

$335M: India-based hotel-booking company Oyo commits $335M to its vacation rental business; Oyo created the Vacation Homes brand with its May acquisition of Amsterdam-based Leisure; Oyo currently operates ~1M rooms across 80 countries.

<$20M: WordPress parent Automattic to acquire Tumblr from Verizon; an Axios source values the deal at <$20M; Verizon took ownership of Tumblr when it acquired Yahoo (which acquired Tumblr for ~$1B in 2013); ~200 Tumblr employees will join Automattic.

1.5%: Google’s Password Checkup Chrome extension, which monitors website logins to determine if credentials are compromised, finds 1.5% of all site logins use exposed credentials; the data is based on logins by 650k users.

📰 What’s going on

Spotify is in talks with Apple about adding Siri support; the companies are discussing the possibility of letting users ask Siri to play tracks, albums, and playlists via Spotify.

Spotify plans to test a more expensive subscription plan in Scandinavia; the company intends to increase the price of Spotify Family by 13%, raising it from ~$15 to ~$17 per month; the firm has also tested Spotify Premium Duo, which offers two paid accounts for ~$14 per month.

Twitter is set to introduce a feature that lets users see curated tweets about specific topics in their timeline; users will be able to choose subjects such as sports teams, TV shows, and celebrities; additionally, users can mute topics to avoid spoilers such as sports scores or movie plotlines.

Twitter begins testing notifications for replies to specific tweets; currently available via Twitter’s iOS and Android apps, the feature is activated through the notifications tab.

Twitter exec Kayvon Beykpour says the company has no current plans to introduce an edit feature; Beykpour says he thinks it’s something Twitter should work on but notes it’s not among the firm’s priorities.

Instagram is set to begin rolling out a feature for reporting misinformation; the company will look at such reports and measure against an account’s previous behavior to determine whether a third-party fact checker should review the content.

Facebook is developing a dark mode for Android, according to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong; Wong notes only parts of the app go dark, suggesting it may be some time before the feature is fully ready.

Deliveroo to cease German operations this week; the food delivery company claims 1.1k drivers and ~100 employees in the country; competitors Takeaway.com and Just Eat recently finalized merger terms.

The We Company (aka WeWork) files for an IPO; the company’s S-1 filing does not disclose how much it plans to raise; the firm recorded revenues of $1.8B in 2018 and losses of $1.6B.

Google Assistant adds a feature that lets users send reminders to others; available for Family Group members, it allows users to assign tasks and notes that show on smart displays and smartphones; creators can set a reminder for a specific time or location, and reminders can be set to repeat.

India-based ride-hailing firm Ola acqui-hires computer vision and data analysis firm Pikup.ai; Pikup.ai founders Inder Singh and Ritwik Saikia will join Ola.

Details included in the latest iOS developer beta indicate the company may announce its new iPhone lineup on Sept 10; the Calendar app icon is set to Sept 10, and it’s accompanied by the filename HoldForRelease; Apple is expected to announce an iPhone with a triple-array back camera. Apple also plans to launch an iPad Pro with a triple-array back camera this October; the 10.2-inch iPad is expected to get twin back cameras.

Microsoft updates its privacy policy and websites to clearly indicate that employees and contractors listen to recordings of Cortana and Skype Translator users; follows a Motherboard report revealing the practice; the company provides an online tool enabling customers to delete recordings; Google, Apple, and Facebook recently paused such human reviews, and Amazon provided an opt-out.

Telegram introduces a feature to limit the amount of messages users can send via group chats; referred to as Slow Mode, admins can control how frequently a group members can send texts; the company has also added a feature to let users send messages that will not trigger an audible ping.

OnePlus says it will launch the OnePlus TV next month; the company has not disclosed details of the product but says it will feature smart features and offer a “smooth and connected experience”.

Huawei is developing its own maps service; known as Map Kit, the service is not expected to be used directly by consumers; it will reportedly offer real-time traffic updates, AR features, and more; Huawei has also signed partnerships with Yandex, Booking.com, and others.

Bytedance launches Toutiao Search, a mobile-only search engine for the Chinese market; separate from its Toutiao news search feature, the service pulls results from across the web and other Bytedance apps; as will all Chinese search tools, results are censored.

China’s central bank says it’s close to launching its own digital currency; the People’s Bank of China says the cryptocurrency — tied to the yuan — could be issued by “commercial entities”; patents indicate the bank will also launch a digital wallet for managing the currency.

Uber implements a hiring freeze across the US and Canada; the company says it has exceeded its goals for recruiting engineers and product managers; follows the company’s FQ2 financials in which it reported a $5.2B loss.

UK-based global remittance firm TransferWise expands its debit card service to Australia and New Zealand; launched in Europe last year, the card lets users spend their TransferWise balance online and in brick-and-mortar stores; the card was also introduced in the US in June; the company says it will launch in Singapore soon.

Arcane Office (web) launches a set of online office tools; includes Docs, Sheets, Photos, and Marks (a PDF markup tool); promises GDPR compliance and support for docs created in Google Docs in and Microsoft Office; supports online collaboration and more.

Sega announces $80 Genesis Mini, which is 55 percent smaller than the original games console; comes with 42 classic titles including “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Ecco the Dolphin”; also features two three-button USB controllers; available Sept 19.

Snap unveils Spectacles 3, the latest version of its camera-equipped glasses for capturing content and publishing to Snapchat; unlike its single-camera predecessors, Spectacles 3 uses two cameras to capture the depth data needed for advanced AR post-processing; now available for pre-order at $380.

👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

The secret history of easter eggs. Tech giants like Google, Amazon, and Tesla still hide “easter eggs” in their products to amuse their customers.

Startup success outside Silicon Valley: Data from over 200 exits in 17 cities.

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User experience vs. business goals: finding the balance. Ariel Verber gives some practical advice for what is not always a win-win situation.

Design thinking guide. InVision has recently put together a brief but useful intro/refresher on Design thinking

The 15 most-read books by top Product Managers. Good book selection by the guys at ProductCon, however I missed some important works:

Do you have any other favorites not listed here? Please share!

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Written by

Full-time learner, product stuff, “triathlete” & global traveller. Creating cool products @ Revolut, formerly @ Booking.com and @ Just Eat.

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