el producto #62 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
iOS vs Android loyalty rates, Amazon debit cards, Google Assistant updates, Spotify voice control, Twilio UI, Balanced product leaders, Trust equation & more.
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto!
🎰 The week in figures
85-88% Apple’s iOS user loyalty rate, vs 89–91% for Android, according to a Consumer Intelligence Research Partners survey of 500 smartphone users.
Uber makes some of its London travel data publicly available via Uber Movement; includes details on median travel times and historical data for road closures. E.g. Tower Bridge closure in 2016 led to a ~65% increase in southbound travel times, and ~30% increase in northbound travel times.
Google removed 3.2B ads for policy violations last year, up from 1.6B in 2016; blocked 320k publishers, up from 100k the year before; also banned 90k websites and 700k mobile apps; ~80M ads removed for linking through to sites that contained malware.
Apple announces 38M paid Apple Music subscribers, up from 36M in February; comparatively, Spotify claimed 71M premium subscribers at the end of 2017; Amazon Music Unlimited claims 16M paid subscribers and Pandora claims ~5.5M total subscribers.
70% of Netflix viweing is on TV, and 40% signups come from PCs. Scifi is the genere most watched on PC.
📰 What’s going on
Amazon launches its first-ever debit card in Mexico; Amazon Rechargeable lets users purchase online goods without the need for a traditional checking account. The move could save the company $250M per year in swipe fees if 15% of its customers used the account.
Google Maps launches wheelchair accessible public transit routes in London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston, and Sydney; will roll out to more markets as the company works with local transit organizations.
Google Assistant routines begin rolling out; saying a specific phrase lets users activate grouped tasks; they can be setup via the Google Assistant app.
Google Assistant adds daily updates and push notifications for voice apps; recent updates also allow developers to incorporate news briefs, clips from TV shows, and interactive stories.
Google launches Assistant for iPad; supports all of the features of Assistant for iPhone, including casting; available in English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Amazon introduces Follow-Up Mode in the Alexa app for Echo and third-party devices; enables Alexa to continue listening for five seconds after completing a request so users don’t have to wake her up again to ask another question; available for US English only.
Facebook is rolling out Facebook Lite to the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand; the app, a data-saving version of its service, was initially intended for developing nations, is now available in more than 100 countries; targets users with limited data plans and those with slow connections.
Apple Maps now supports bike-sharing information in ~175 cities across 36 countries; provided in partnership with transit data company Ito World; users can search for “bike sharing” or for the name of a particular bike-sharing service to find the nearest option.
Apple acquires Next Issue Media, owner of Texture: a digital newsstand that provides unlimited access to a catalog of magazines; plans start at $10 per month; Apple is acquiring the full company, which will continue to operate; Texture’s apps will remain available for all supported platforms.
Apple opens registration for WWDC, which will take place June 4–8 at the at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose; lottery-based registration runs until March 22; tickets are $1.6k.
Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, can now read emails out loud and allow users to dictate responses; new feature works only with the Harman Kardon Evoke smart speakers and Windows 10 devices and Outlook accounts.
Spotify begins testing an in-app voice control feature; lets users launch playlists and search for music; currently available to a limited number of users.
Spotify plans to conduct its NYSE direct listing during the week of April 2; currently valued at more than $20B, will trade under symbol $SPOT.
Twitter is developing a Snapchat-like camera-first feature; the feature reportedly focuses on notable events and combines location-tagged photos and videos with Twitter’s Moments feature; advertisers could sponsor entire events or place ads in feeds.
Twilio launches Flex: a full-stack contact center with graphical user interface; the communications backend provider previously focused on APIs without any UI design; Flex, which targets large companies, includes virtually all aspects of the existing Twilio infrastructure and serves as an app platform; supports voice, video, Facebook Messenger, etc.
Microsoft announces that its Teams collaboration and communication product will support cloud recording, inline message translation, Cortana voice interactions, and more later this year; the service now claims 200k organizations as customers, up from 125k in September.
Microsoft researchers say they’ve developed a machine translation system that can translate Chinese news articles to English with the same quality and accuracy as a human translator.
Alibaba is planning a second public listing in China; the IPO is expected to occur later this year and would come four years after the company first listed on the NYSE.
Lyft partners with auto supplier Magna to co-develop autonomous driving tech; Manga is investing $200M into Lyft as part of the deal, which will see the pair’s self-driving tech integrated into production vehicles.
New Google Maps API enables developers to incorporate real-world geography into video games via the Unity game engine; creators can utilize real city features and e.g. transform streets into lava or buildings into candy castles; more than 200 titles using Maps data are currently in development.
Language learning app Duolingo adds support for Klingon; the implementation has been in development since 2015.
Google announces a ban on all cryptocurrency-related ads from June 2018; includes ads for ICOs, wallets, and trading advice; follows a similar move by Facebook.
📚 Stuff to think about
Be a balanced product leader, not a feature blocker or a product dictator. Roman Pichler on how to find the sweet spot between the two extremes.
Tim Berners-Lee suggests the next 20 years of the web will see much less innovation because of the dominance of a handful of large internet firms; notes platforms can maintain their positions by acquiring smaller startups and by leveraging pools of data; he also highlights the ability of malicious actors to weaponize the web, noting the impact of e.g. election interference; the comments come in an open letter marking 29 years since the creation of the World Wide Web.
The equation to determine, diagnose and repair Trust. First Round Review features Anne Raimondi with a great piece on managing trust. “When you realize something is blocking you from working well with another person, the first step is to recognize how important the relationship is to you”,“Don’t wait to talk about it. Initiate a conversation today.”
Soon you may be able to upload your brain (how it will be downloaded and used tbd). The only caveat is that you will have to be euthanized first.
📜 From the archives
Make Products Great Again. Built the right thing, build the thing right, build it fast. Finding balance in a sea of stakeholders.