Monetizing voice assistants, Alexa on iPhone, Netflix updates, new iPads, holographic AR, Microsoft’s Slack competitor, bots’ own language & more.
Welcome to a new week full of fresh ideas and innovation at elproducto.
📰 Seen on the news
- Google ATAP and Levi’s announce $350 smart denim jacket; can control a smart phone with taps and gestures.
- Monetizing voice. Google Assistant is now playing audio ads for some users when they ask for a “My Day” summary; both Google Home and Android users have reported the ads; the ad copy is read by the usual Google Assistant voice and accompanied by sound effects; the spot is placed in the middle of the user’s summary.
- Google updates Gmail for Android with the ability to send money as an attachment via Google Wallet (currently limited to the US); the recipient does not need a gmail.com account; no fees for either party.
- New Android assistant. Xix.ai developing an Android launcher replacement that anticipates what features and apps the user will need in preparation for calendar events; eg. a meeting event will trigger buttons linking to directions, a relevant email thread, etc; below that, links to relevant apps; ultimately plans full AI assistant.
- Apple is set to announce a 10.5-inch iPad in April; the launch will coincide with the opening of Apple Park; the firm is also expected to update the 9.7-inch iPad and 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
- Uptime, an iOS app for watching YouTube content with others by Google incubator Area 120; the UI shows user profiles going around the screen, indicating how far through the video each viewer is; users can chat and react, as well as follow others.
- Alexa sneaked into your iPhone. Amazon updates its primary iOS app with Alexa (rolling out); Alexa can help shop, track packages, more; includes most Alexa functions.
- Facebook tests feature to prompt users to continue watching videos they didn’t finish; is appearing on top of some News Feeds, only in web version; may contribute to long-term goal of getting publishers to provide longer videos for users to watch on smart TVs.
- Looking for Premium perks in face of growing competition. Spotify might make the biggest album releases exclusive to paid users for a limited time after launch; the company is renegotiating royalty agreements with record labels and might agree to exclusivity windows in exchange for lower fees.
- Thumbs up, Netflix. The firm is set to move from a star-based rating system to a thumbs up/thumbs down model; will also begin recommending titles based on percentage score. Releasing in April. Users will also be able to skip opening credits.
- Netflix also plans to experiment with different edits of its shows for mobile devices; the firm suggests it could use certain shots that are better suited to smaller displays.
- Watch company Swatch is developing its own smartwatch operating system; set to launch in late 2018, the firm says the unnamed OS will be able to connect with third-party devices, and promises to consume less power than current wearables.
- Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will use facial recognition technology to authorize Samsung Pay transactions; the feature may not be immediately available at launch, but when added, will offer an alternative to fingerprint validation.
- Twitter is set to launch a live-streaming API for media companies; firms currently have to use Periscope or arrange a broadcast with Twitter directly, but the API will allow them to live-stream at will.
- Forget boring car nav systems, Alibaba is betting for in-car holographic augmented reality. The Chinese giant invests $18M in WayRay; the company aims to launch AR nav system in 2017.
- Big VCs are investing in bike-sharing. Bike-sharing startup LimeBike raises $12M led by Andreessen Horowitz; plans April launch in US; GPS- and 3G-connected bikes run $1 per 30 minutes of use; renters locate available bikes via app, drop off anywhere and secure with smart lock; tires are foam core (no flats).
- Microsoft launches Slack competitor. Teams is available in 181 countries and 19 languages; chat and collaboration product available for Office 365 customers on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and web.
- Amazon will judge your clothing. The new Prime feature Outfit Compare will let users upload pictures of themselves and compare clothing.
- The non-techie saviour. Alphabet’s Jigsaw launches Sideways Dictionary, an online tool that offers real-world analogies for technical acronyms and phrases
📚 Good reads
- The story of Firebase. How a startup built a product loved my millions and got acquired by Google. Founder Collective talks to Firebase founders on their path to success. Hint: a lot networking with the right people.
- On facilitator vs decision-making Product Managers. Adam Juras presents his argument on when and why group decision-making may not be the best approach. My personal take is that it is not black or white. Facilitators are just empowering team members to become decision-makers, but they are also there to ensure the decision is the right one in line with the strategy and business objectives. They should make the call to shift direction otherwise.
- Don’t piss off your users with changes. Jonas Downey from Basecamp shares some good advice on how to precent user frustration when updating your products.
- Guerrilla testing Airbinb’s Experiences. A well-documented and full of great examples inside look into the process behind testing the new feature from Airbnb.
- How bots are learning to talk their own language at OpenAI. Wired talks to the guys making bots talk and cooperate within themselves, giving machines the freedom to communicate how and as they please.
- Don’t let the process distract you from finding the strategy. Why are we obsessed about processes? They give us a structured path that has been proved effective to achieve our personal or professional goals. But is it always strategic to follow the process?
👨🏫 Quote of the week
“We need higher-level concepts to make sense of the morass of low-level details, weeding out the ones that are specific to wetware or just quirks of evolution. We don’t built airplanes by reverse engineering feathers, and airplanes don’t flap their wings. Rather, airplane designs are based on the principles of aerodynamics, which all flying objects must obey.” — Pedro Domingos, The Master Algorithm (great book!)