elproducto #17 👉 a weekly peek into the future of Tech and Product
Elon Musk’s underground car network, Apple’s p2p payments, Instagram & Linkedin growth, Uber’s flying commute, EU free roaming, Design debt & more.
Welcome to a new week full of fresh ideas and innovation at elproducto.
📰 Seen on the news
- Duolingo launches $10 per month subscription service; eliminates ads and allows for offline use, but non-premium users will still be able to use the app for free; the firm says it can break even by the end of the year.
- Google updates its search algorithm and introduces new reporting forms for search suggestions and featured snippets; a link will be shown beneath predictions or knowledge cards, letting users quickly flag inappropriate results; part of “Project Owl,” an internal effort to counter fake news and offensive content within search results.
- Apple to catch up on AR, filed patent to represent a virtual object in a real environment; users would capture a 2D environment, and be able to insert an object at a certain location in the recording, in front of or behind other objects; could be used to help users purchase products.
- Apple planning to launch a peer-to-peer payments service; has spoken with Visa about launching a prepaid debit card that would be tied to the service; an announcement could come this year.
- Apple to reduce affiliate commissions for apps and in-app purchases on May 1; will be reduced from 7 percent to 2.5 percent, globally; the rate for music, movies and books will remain at 7 percent
- iOS 11 will include a redesigned Apple Music that showcases video; Apple may release up to 10 original video series by year’s end; most current and planned projects relate to music, including documentaries.
- WhatsApp updates for iOS, adding the ability for Siri to read out messages; users could previously compose messages via the voice assistant.
- WeChat users spend an average of 66 minutes a day on the service; compares with Facebook which sees 50 minutes a day; 82 percent of WeChat users have used the service to work.
- Speeding up the voice assistants race, Google launches Developer Preview of the Google Assistant SDK; enables developers to integrate Assistant functions with “OK Google” or button wake; not yet authorized for use in commercial products: Google encourages those wishing to commercialize to contact the company.
- Google updates Search for iOS with links to media in streaming apps and content marketplaces; a user searching for a movie will see icons linking to Netflix, iTunes, etc, for immediate viewing; the feature was previously available for Android.
- Amazon launches a digital marketplace for third party subscriptions; Subscribe with Amazon lets users find apps, websites and software which charge a recurring fee; current offerings include New Yorker and more.
- Twitter is planning to broadcast live news, sports and entertainment videos 24 hours per day; the company suggests it’ll be an always playing feed users can focus on when events interesting to them happen. Twitter also reported Q1 earnings announcing a timid 6% user growth.
- Facebook is testing various discovery features for news content; includes grouping articles and videos together, and a new tab that would curate stories from pages a user doesn’t already follow.
- Instagram reaches 700M MAUs, up from 600M in Dec 16; represents the shortest period to add 100M users.
- Wikipedia cofounder Jimmy Wales launches community-powered news website WikiTribune; will pair experienced reporters with volunteers who can sub-edit and fact check articles; the site will cover politics, science, tech and more; it’ll also be ad-free.
- Not giving up the keys. BlackBerry is set to launch the $550 KeyOne next month; built by TCL Communications, the device features a 4.5-inch touchscreen, physical keyboard, and 12MP back camera.
- Samsung will sell refurbished Galaxy Note 7’s in South Korea from June; rebranded as Galaxy Note 7 R, includes smaller batteries and will be sold at a discount of more than $260.
- Target 2020: Uber hopes to demo vertical takeoff and landing commute service, Elevate Network, at the 2020 World Expo in Dubai and in Dallas around the same time; working with several partners (incl. Aurora, see video) to develop electric VTOL vehicles and relevant tech.
- Google founder also wants to fly. Sergey Brin is constructing an airship; the aircraft is being built at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley; final plans are unclear, but it’s not an Alphabet project.
- Bike-sharing growth in China. Ride hailing firm Didi Chuxing integrates bike-rental service Ofo into its own app; Didi is used by about 400M people across 400 Chinese cities; Ofo recently announced a plan to reach 200 locations. Didi previously bought Uber China and may soon become Asia’s most valuable startup.
- Tesla plans to have 10k Superchargers active globally by year’s end; had 5k in place at the beginning of the year; also plans to have 15k Destination Charging connectors, which are found at restaurants, hotels, etc; currently has 9k Destination Charging connectors.
- Elon Musk’s Boring company wants to move cars faster through a tunnel network. The concept includes roadside elevators and a underground platforms that would move vehicles on rails at +200kmh.
- Boston Dynamics has been testing its dog-like robot Spot for delivering parcels to employees; has also been testing a bipedal robot in a factory, moving boxes to a conveyer belt; that robot has achieved about two-thirds the average speed of a human worker; the company has been 3D printing components that approximate biological counterparts.
- Alphabet’s Waymo invites families in Phoenix, AZ to sign up for a free autonomous ride service; the firm has been testing the program with several local families, but will now introduce 500 Chrysler minivans so it can expand; vehicles are monitored by human drivers, who also collect user feedback.
- DJI launches a $450 headset providing users control by head movement and live video feed from their drone; compatible with Mavic Pro, Phantom 4 and Inspire drones; available now for pre-order.
- The EU passes final vote to end roaming charges across member states and economic partner countries such as Iceland and Norway; the new law will be signed in May and come into effect Jun 15.
- Samsung launches Wemogee (Android), a messaging app that converts text phrases to emoji and back again; built in collaboration with a team of speech therapists, the app offers 140 common phrases and is aimed at those living with communication disorders.
- LinkedIn claims 500M members in more than 200 countries; 10M active job listings from more than 9M companies; United Arab Emirates is the most connected country, with users averaging 211 connections; London is the most-connected “place,” with an average 307 connections.
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elproducto is a curated selection of Tech&Product happenings within the last few days from a curious and frequently skeptical Product Manager’s perspective.
📚 Good reads
- The era of the Brain Machine interface is near. Steven from Backchannel writes about how Facebook and Elon Musk are pursuing the brain-computer integration as opposed to a standalone AI.
- Tips on tackling design debt From shift in business objectives to products’ evolution, design debt is hard to avoid. Jordan Koschei tells us few ways in which we can handle this challenge.
- Questions and tips for interviewing for Product roles. Brent Tworetzky has put together a handy guide for those involved in hiring Product people. Also handy for those looking for Product jobs :)
- Why it’s harder to innovate at established companies than at startups. Steve Blank walk us through some misconceptions about the “startup” concept when talking about established companies. Interesting contrast to Peter Thiel’s book Zero to One, in which a different perspective is presented, defending growth to enable innovation.
- On the horizons of the Knowable and why cross-pollination of disciplines is the seedbed of truth. Maria Popova writes at her Brainpickings blog (one of my favourites) about the limits (or not) of what humans can know and how English mathematician Marcus du Sautoy sees these edges of knowledge.
- This is Facebook’s moment for AR. Following my last week’s news-puke on Facebook’s VR & AR announcements, Edward Miller has written a great overview of what the features and technologies presented could mean for the future of Augmented Reality and the use of social media.
- Metaphors and analogies in Product Design. Nick Babich has compiled few and easy to remember metaphors and analogues to help bring attention to features and affordances.
🎯 Quote of the week
“Would we want to know everything? Scientists have a strangely ambivalent relationship with the unknown. On the one hand, what we don’t know is what intrigues and fascinates us, and yet the mark of success as a scientist is resolution and knowledge, to make the unknown known.” — Georgia O’Keffe