Google News app redesign, Aggregators vs platforms, Alexa voice identification, Gmail offline, Uber beyond cars, Tinder location-tracking feature & more.
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto!
🎰 The week in figures
$8B planned to spend by Netflix in original content this year; the company has committed 85% of content spending to producing original projects; plans to have 1k original titles by year’s end.
$1B Apple seeks in damages from Samsung in patent infringement retrial; Samsung infringed upon 3 of Apple’s design patents and two utility patents; a jury awarded Apple more than $1B in 2012, but the figure was reduced by a 2013 retrial, appeals, and adjustments.
583M fake accounts deleted by Facebook in Q1’18. Facebook published its community enforcement numbers for the first time this week. The report also shows that Facebook’s AI and other moderator tools are better at detecting some kinds of offensive content than others: Facebook detected 99.7% of spam but only flagged 38% of hate speech content.
📰 What’s going on
Amazon updates Alexa with automatic learning for voice identification; the optional feature enables Alexa to build profiles for personalized music recommendations; voice ID also authenticates users for purchases, and offers customized messaging options.
Amazon launches web-based tool Sumerian in general availability; enables developers to create cross-platform 3D, AR, and VR applications using Amazon services; interactive scenes and characters can be experienced in-browser; does not require any specialized programming or 3D expertise.
Amazon partners with blockchain startup Kaleido to provide AWS customers with a managed blockchain service; Kaleido is the first blockchain SaaS solution on the AWS Marketplace; uses the Ethereum blockchain.
Gmail rolls out offline support for desktop; lets users sync emails for the last seven, 30, or 90 days; replaces previous offline functionality which was limited to Chrome and required an extension.
Google rolls out a redesigned Google News app for iOS; offers personalized briefings with the latest top fives stories, expanded coverage, local stories, and more.
Chrome browser will stop displaying the “Secure” label in the address bar for HTTPS sites and will start displaying a “Not secure” label for HTTP sites, starting this fall; Google says users should expect HTTPS protection as the default.
YouTube is set to relaunch YouTube Music as a standalone streaming service on May 22; the redesigned mobile app will include a new player, discovery features, and more; available for free, or $10 per month for ad-free listening with offline features; YouTube Red is also being rebranded as YouTube Premium, which will cost $12 per month for new subscribers.
PayPal acquires Stockholm-based mobile payments company iZettle; the companies have agreed to a $2.2B all-cash deal, PayPal’s largest acquisition to date.
Tinder’s location-tracking feature Places connects people who visit the same social locations; Places does not display user locations in real time and it waits for an undisclosed period after a visit to display a location on a map; filters out non-social locations, such as a doctor’s office.
Microsoft announces Surface Hub 2, a 50.5-inch display that promises greater-than 4K resolution; the device can be moved between portrait and landscape mode, and also supports multi-display configuration; set to launch next year.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says the company is focused on expanding beyond cars; Khosrowshahi says Uber plans to move into multi-modal transportation, incorporating, bikes, cars, buses, trains, and VTOL taxis.
Didi Chuxing announces changes to its privacy and security tools following the suspected murder of a passenger by an unauthorized driver; rider profiles will only be visible to the users themselves, and all drivers will be subject to daily facial recognition scans; Didi’s carpooling service will also be suspended from 10 pm until 6 am.
China-based bike-sharing firm Ofo turned down a takeover bid from Didi Chuxing; Ofo CEO Dai Wei told employees on Monday the company is facing a difficult period, but that it intends to remain independent; rival Mobike was recently acquired by Meituan-Dianping for $2.7B.
Munich-based FlixBus launches in the southwestern US; provides routing, booking and other services for long-distance busing companies; the new office is in LA; has 300 partners in Europe and is launching with six partners in the US.
Self-driving vehicle company Drive.ai is testing fully autonomous cars (without safety drivers) on public roads in Frisco, TX; the company will launch a geo-fenced, self-driving ride-share pilot in the town in July.
Smart luggage company Raden shuts down, citing new airline regulations on bags with batteries; the company can no longer process returns, exchanges, or repairs; will fulfill outstanding orders; connected luggage company Bluesmart shut down on May 1.
📚 Stuff to think about
Aggregators vs Platforms. Stratechery analyses how Facebook, Google, Netflix, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft fit across the spectrums of Supplier Differentiation and Network Effects, and what their positions ultimately represent.
Learning from Chinese delivery apps UX. A look at how Meituan and Ele.me win at immediate feedback, seamless interactions and transparency.
Andrew Chen on growth. Podcast (and transcript) conversation between Intercom and investor / advisor Andrew Chen covering a series of topics including: virality, shifting growth channels, and effective signup funnels.