Enhancing UX with AI, Pushing experimentation, Facebook is cloning Snapchat, Bike-sharing apps, Pinterest’s visual search, Hyperloop tests & more.
Welcome to a new week full of fresh ideas and innovation at elproducto.
📰 Seen on the news
- Google announces Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat; Meet enables video chat with no installations or signups; users can join from a Calendar event or shared link; Chat provides room-based team messaging with third-party integrations (like Slack); Meet is available now; Chat has not yet launched. Also announces Jamboard, Google’s digital white board, will be available this May for $5k; the 4K, 55-inch Jamboard competes directly with Microsoft’s Surface Hub, the 55-inch version of which runs $9k
- Are you really really human? Google introduces the invisible reCAPTCHA; uses machine learning to identify bots; human users will no longer need to check the “I am not a robot” box; visitors marked as suspicious will need to check the box or complete a challenge, such as “select all images featuring street signs”; available now.
- Recognizing video objects with Machine Learning. Google demonstrates the Video Intelligence API: a tool for recognizing subjects, settings and more in videos; can also identify the context or type of a video, such as a commercial; the API will be made available to developers.
- Last on Google this week; updated Gboard virtual keyboard allows instant translation; translates into the selected destination language as the user types; received text (from someone not using Gboard’s translate feature) must be copy/pasted for translation.
- Snapstagrambook. Facebook is now rolling out Messenger Day globally for iOS and Android; the Messenger feature lets users capture an image or video, add a frame, effects, stickers and stylized text, then post to a story stream; each item disappears after 24 hours. Are they going too far in copying Snapchat’s features? Messenger’s Director of Product Management left the company a day after the feature’s launch.
- Facebook launches Samsung Gear VR app Facebook 360; available through the Oculus app, Facebook 360 enables users to discover and experience 360-degree content; users can also follow people and organizations that publish immersive content
- China-based bike sharing firm Ofo launches in the UK, starting with 500 bikes in Cambridge; users can book a nearby bicycle via a mobile app, and can drop off at any reasonable location; rentals are charged at £0.50 per journey, irrespective of distance.
- WhatsApp begins testing tools that let firms chat with customers directly; follows previous reports that WhatsApp is testing a similar service in India with companies that have 10 or less employees
- Pinterest launches visual search tool Lens in beta; available in the US for iOS and Android; users can tap the red camera next to the search bar to capture a clothing item, a recipe, etc; can also search using images from camera roll; Lens learns from user searches; can find similar and complimentary products, meals by available ingredients.
- Airbnb closes Series F at $1B; TechCrunch reports a post-valuation of $31B; source indicates the company was profitable for the second half of last year and expects to be profitable for 2017 (EBITDA); reportedly has no plans to go public any time soon; raised roughly $3.4B to date.
- IBM develops a method of storing data with each individual atom representing one bit: 1k times more efficient than current hard drives, they could store all of iTunes’ 35M tracks on a disk the size of a credit card; uses electricity to change the magnetic direction of each atom and freeze it in place.
- California plans to allow testing of autonomous vehicles on public roads without drivers present by the end of the year.
- Tinder has a members-only version of the app; Tinder Select is available to CEOs, supermodels, and other celebrities; some users are able to invite others to the service, but invitations are limited.
- Nintendo is talking to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon about bringing their services to the Switch platform; sports content is also coming, including FIFA and NBA2K.
- Vimeo adds support for 360-degree videos; along with being available on the standard platform, the firm will also let creators publish 360 content for viewers to rent or buy. Supported via Apps, Daydream, GearVR and Zeiss VR One headsets.
- Shazam launches Shazam Codes: a feature enabling users to scan codes on products to reclaim discounts and unlock AR content; the company launched visual recognition features in 2015 and has now redesigned its apps to make camera functions more prominent
- Hyperloop One reveals the first public images of its test track north of Las Vegas; the company hopes to conduct a public test by mid-year.
- DoNotPay, a chat bot that fights parking tickets on the user’s behalf, now helps refugees fill out immigration applications for the US and Canada; helps users in the UK apply for asylum; the bot asks a series of questions to determine eligibility and to select the right paperwork; forms are auto-filled and sent in, when possible.
- Y Combinator launches Startup School, an online program with lectures from a range of entrepreneurs including WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, Reddit CEO Steve Huffman and various YC partners; the program will also offer a weekly advice session for a limited number of users.
- UK-based healthcare startup Cera is set to use Uber to transport non-emergency patients between various NHS facilities; the firm will initially make use of UberAssist and wheelchair accessible UberWav to move people between hospitals and clinics in east London.
- Volkswagen presents autonomous pods concept. The electric self-driving vehicle is focused on ride-sharing and maximising interior space.
📚 Good reads
- How to push your team to take risks and Experiment. Sara Critchfield, founding editor of Upworthy.com shares some actionable insights on fostering experimentation.
- Enhancing UX processes with AI. A practical case on how AI can help improving findability of content and support UX design processes. Sounds utopic? Perhaps not anymore.
- What happens in between? Product people, mind the gaps! User journeys are much more complex than going from A to B, and by asking ourselves what happens in between, by looking at the granularity of the tiniest steps, we can unveil previously unnoticed customer pains and opportunities.
- Seven lessons from Peter Thiel’s Zero to One. Good compilation of lessons taken from Thiel’s bold book on breakthrough innovation. The book (which I’m currently re-listening on Audible) has been recently recommended by Elon Musk as one of the top 8 books key to his successes (worth noting that Elon and Peter are friends, co-founded Paypal together, and most of Elon’s success happened before the book publication :))
- Common mistakes on user research. David Travis from Userfocus has compiled what he calls the 7 Deadly Sins of User Research. Very useful read for those of us involved in research processes.
- The most attractive cities to move to for work. HBR reviews Airinc’s index on the most attractive cities for workers.
👨🏫 Quote I’m pondering
I’m currently reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, a classic on stoic philosophy that, despite obvious cultural changes (considering it was written nearly 2000 years ago), can sound surprisingly present.
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” — Marcus Aurelius, Meditations