In defense of experiment velocity, Netflix growth, Upcoming Apple products, Facebook’s new tech hubs, Amazon Go, Uber’s CEO predictions & more.
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto!
📰 What’s going on
Facebook acquires ID authentication company Confirm.io; terms undisclosed; provided an API that enabled companies to validate government-issued IDs via facial recognition and mobile biometrics.
Facebook announces plans to establish technology skills hubs in Spain, Poland, and Italy; the community facilities will provide access to those with limited means; it hopes to have trained 1M people and businesses by 2020.
Apple is developing an iBooks replacement with support for audio books; titled Books, the app will also include a redesigned digital bookstore that resembles the new App Store layout.
iOS 11.3 firmware likely indicates a coming iPad Pro with FaceID; the code references a “modern iPad,” which is how previous firmwares referred to the then-unreleased iPhone X; Bloomberg News reported Apple plans such a launch this year.
Apple launches Apple Music for Artists: a dashboard providing musicians with analytics for fans’ listening and buying habits; currently in beta, limited to a few thousand artists.
Apple has expanded its CA autonomous test fleet from 3 vehicles to 27 since receiving a testing permit last April; the CA DMV has confirmed the company has registered 24 more Lexus RX450h SUVs for self-driving tests.
Apple will open HomePod pre-orders on Jan 26 with shipping set for Feb 9; the $350 Siri-enabled speaker was initially set to launch early last month, but was delayed for undisclosed reasons
Instagram partners with GIPHY to add GIF support for Stories; lets users search and browse from GIPHY’s library, and then overlay selected GIFs onto photos and videos. Also launches “Activity Status” feature, which allows users to see when others were last active on the site.
The Google Play store begins selling audiobooks; offers customers their first title half off.
Google begins experimenting with browser-based AR; the company has developed Article, a prototype tool that lets developers embed AR objects within websites; users would be able to preview the 3D graphic on the page, then place it in a real-world setting via AR.
Google to open a support center in Portugal this year serving Europe, Middle East, and Africa; the Lisbon facility will provide 500 high-skilled jobs with third-party suppliers.
Chrome browser v64 includes a permanent, site-wide mute option for sites with autoplay audio and video; Chrome’s mute option was previously limited to a single session and remained active on a tab even if the user navigated to another site within that tab.
Amazon opens its first cashier-free grocery store, Amazon Go, to the general public in Seattle; internal plans reportedly indicate the company could open 2k such locations over the next 10 years.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi predicts flying cars will be in use within a decade; also posited self-driving taxis are 10-15 years away, and forecasts that UberEats will become the world’s largest food-delivery firm by the end of the year
Tinder is vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks due to a lack of HTTPS encryption; those using Tinder’s iOS or Android apps on public Wi-Fi can have photos injected into their feed and their swipes can also be monitored.
Snapchat announces the ability to share public stories with people who aren’t on Snapchat; a user can long-press Official Stories, Our Stories, and Search Stories within Discover for shareable links; a non-user accessing one of the links will be directed to a player on the Snapchat website.
🎰 The week in figures
Netflix Q4 beats with $3.29B revenue ($3.28B expected); 1.98M new US subscribers, 6.36M new International subscribers; forecasts 1.45M new US subscribers for Q1, 4.9M international; passed $100B in market cap
Apple claims Siri has 500M users; the company did not provide specifics on what constitutes an active user, or which devices see the most activity; the figure is up from 375M in June 2017.
📚 Stuff to think about
In defense of experiment velocity. Excellent article by Tristan Kromer exposing different ways of measuring success in experimentation (most of, gambles).
SpaceX conducts successful static test fire of its Falcon Heavy rocket at Cape Canaveral; Elon Musk says the rocket is ready to launch in about a week.
Nike partners with Sony to launch a PlayStation-inspired sneaker; features a “pulse mode” with tongues that vibrate and light up; the built-in batteries last about 150 hours; available Feb 10 for $110.
👩🎓 Quote of the week
“we can run a lot of experiments and not learn anything. But we can’t learn anything without running at least a few.” — In defense of experiment velocity, by Tristan Kromer.