🎰 The week in figures
$30B: Waymo valued at $30B after raising $2.25B in the company’s first external round; Alphabet, A16, AutoNation, and others participated; recently the company has removed safety drivers from some of its robo-taxi vehicles in Phoenix, begun mapping for autonomous semi-trucks in NM and TX, more.
69%: Ride-hailing trips produce 69% more pollution than the rides they displace; in urban areas, rideshare rides often replace walking, riding bikes, and use of public transit; the group said ride-share companies should electrify fleets, incentivize pooled rides, and encourage low-emissions transport.
📰 What’s going on
Airbnb had planned to begin the IPO process in March or April but the impact of coronavirus could push the listing to next year; the company is contending with decreased travel bookings and the poor performance of other tech market debuts; Airbnb also had an unprofitable year.
Facebook launches 2D to 3D photo conversion feature; works with single-camera phones, which cannot capture the depth data that dual-lens devices can; the company uses machine learning to infer the depth data, enabling everyone to use the platform’s 3D photo feature.
Facebook will initially exclude proposed currency Libra from Facebook-owned platforms; the company will instead use digital versions of government-issued currencies, including USD and Euros; the company reportedly plans to delay the launch of its digital wallet.
WhatsApp updates its iOS and Android apps with a dark mode, on by default for users with an OS dark mode enabled; the company said the dark gray and off-white color scheme of the Android version reduces screen brightness and glare and improves readability and contrast, compared to the pure-white-on-pure-black option used by some apps.
Amazon is piloting its Indian food-delivery business in 5 densely-populated parts of Bangalore; Amazon was signing contracts with brands, taking smaller commissions than Swiggy and Zomato.
Twitter begins testing “fleets”, ephemeral tweets than cannot be retweeted or liked, in Brazil; in addition to text, users can attach photos, GIFs, and videos; fleets appear in a dedicated timeline above the primary timeline and disappear 24 hours after publishing.
Google to transition entirely to mobile-first indexing by September; the company has already made the switch for 70% of sites displayed in search results; Google began the initiative in 2016 to improve the web for mobile users; Google is sending notices to site administrators warning of any issues inhibiting mobile crawlers.
Google Assistant on Android adds support for reading aloud web pages and app content; the action can be triggered by saying “Hey Google, read it,” or “Hey Google, read this page”; the feature has support for 42 languages at launch; rolling out now.
Google cancels the physical events associated with this year’s I/O conference due to coronavirus, will instead host a series of online events; Google will refund those who purchased tickets for the conference, and this year’s registered guests will have the option to buy tickets for next year’s event without going through a lottery process.
Google updates Pixel devices with expanded emergency help features, additional photo and video functions, Google Pay improvements, more; the company also added new Motion Sense controls, enabling users to pause and resume music playback with the wave of a hand; Google’s Personal Safety app, which detects auto accidents and calls for help, has expanded to the UK and Australia.
Alphabet’s X launches Tidal, a project aimed at sustainably preserving ocean life; the unit will work on tech for better understanding marine environments; it will also develop tools to help the fishing industry manage their operations in environmentally conscious ways; one of its first products is a computer vision system for tracking and monitoring individual fish as they develop.
Apple updates App Store guidelines to allow push notification ads, more; the push advertising option requires user authorization; developers implementing the tech must provide users an option within the app to disable it; developers must use the official API to prompt users to review apps, and can no longer use custom alerts for that purpose.
Apple plans to launch six products with mini-LED tech this year and next; includes iPads, iMacs, and MacBooks, potentially a new 14.1-inch MacBook Pro, and an iMac Pro (not refreshed since 2017).
Spotify begins testing a child-focused version of its app; Spotify Kids is targeted at children aged three to 12, and features a bright UI, animated characters, and more; users have access to 6k human-curated songs (compares with 50M tracks for the main version); Spotify Kids is currently available in the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, and New Zealand; unknown if or when it will roll out wider.
ByteDance officially launches its music streaming service Resso in India; the company has been testing the service in the country since late last year; Resso offers an ad-supported tier and and an ad-free premium option; includes social features such as sharing song lyrics, comments, and other user-generated content.
Game Developers Conference (GDC) organizers postpone this year’s event after numerous companies withdrew due to coronavirus concerns; initially scheduled for March 16–20, will now take place this summer.
Privacy-focused search engine and browser tech company DuckDuckGo launches Tracker Radar, a data set of companies and domains that track users; DuckDuckGo is making the set available to others, and Vivaldi browser announced it would use the data to protect users; DuckDuckGo updates the data once per month.
👩🏾💻 Good reads
Tech Nation’s UK startup dashboard. An interactive dashboard with loads of UK startup data. Watch out, you may easily spend hours playing with it.
Modal or not Modal. An analysis of the pros and cons for different types of users prompts, including a decision-making framework to help you assess whether to add modal screens or alternatives.
A Product coaching framework to foster Product thinking, by Founders Factory Head of Product Sebastian Saboune
Why OKRs fail. Marty Cagan has stopped advocating for OKRs, and he shares some common pitfalls when companies have “tried” to apply them.
How Facebook uses ML to detect fake accounts, by MIT Technology Review.