Facebook design updates, Amazon’s instant pickup, Snapchat’s broadcasts, Empathy maps, 2017 newborn unicorns, Google apps updates & more
📰 Seen on the news
Facebook introduces several design updates for News Feed including chat-style comments and circular profile pictures; the firm has also improved color contrast, added larger link previews, and more.
Instagram adds comment threads; responses will now nest directly below the initial comment.
Twitter updates the Explore tab on iOS and Android to sort tweets by topics, according to user interests; in time, users will have more control over the topics displayed; for instance, users will be able to identify topics they find less interesting.
Amazon launches Instant Pickup, enabling users to order essential items via app and to pick up in person after two minutes; users can also add new items during pickup; provides snacks, drinks, etc; currently limited to US Berkeley and Los Angeles.
Snapchat’s latest trick edits crowd footage into a single, seamless broadcast. Crowd Surf syncs otherwise disjointed experiences via ML parsed over sound.
Medium launches clapping feature. You can give different levels of applause by clicking more or less on the 👏 button. Higher levels of applause will help promoting articles.
Tencent’s WeChat now claims more than 960M monthly active users; the app had roughly 800M a year ago, and 600M in 2015.
Google is set to pay Apple $3B this year to remain the default search engine on iPhone; compares with $1B in 2014 ; Google may account for 5% of Apple’s operating profit in 2017.
Google acquires AIMatter, which develops AI-powered photo and video processing tech for mobile; terms undisclosed; the company’s Fabby app (iOS) uses computer vision to automatically edit selfies, applying different effects to foregrounds and backgrounds.
Google is rolling out an update to its primary app for Android; features three tabs: Home, a news feed based on search history; Upcoming, which features cards on calendar events, reminders, etc; and Recent, which displays recent searches.
Google updates the Home smart speaker with free voice calling in the US and Canada (update rolling out); enables users to initiate calls with the “Hey Google, call…” command; can call contacts and businesses.
Google is testing a new UI for Calendar on desktop; the refresh seems to be based on Material Design; the test is apparently limited to a small group of users.
Finally on Google, a new algorithm makes it easier to remove watermarks from photos (bringing worries over copyright):
The next Apple Watch will be available with or without LTE; reportedly will not support 3G connectivity; no obvious design changes, 38mm and 42mm variants; will ship later this year.
Apple plans to spend as much as $1B over the next year to acquire and produce original shows; the company could invest in as many as 10 television shows, and may launch a standalone video service; the firm has launched two shows to date, both on Apple Music.
Amazon expands its incentive program for Alexa skill developers; launched in May, providing cash payouts to Alexa developers with the most popular games; now includes the most popular and engaging voice-powered apps in other categories: Education & Reference, Music & Audio, more.
Uber rolls out in-app tipping in the UK; the firm will also introduce a waiting fee of £0.20 ($0.25) per minute from Aug 22
Berlin-based scooter-sharing startup Coup expands to Paris with 600 keyless electric scooters, which are turned on via mobile app; the app displays current locations of available scooters; users can leave scooters almost anywhere; costs roughly $3.50 for the first 30 minutes and about $1 for each additional 10-minute block.
📚 Good reads
Why is Uber successful? Avinash Kaushik says there’s an underlying reason beyond convenience.
Can augmented reality solve mobile visualiztion? A peek into the future of AR and its multiple applications.
20 Years of Product Management in 25 Minutes. Fun and insightful talk form last MTP conference by Dave Wascha. Product inspiration at its best!
Are customer requests overrated? Obsessively fulfilling customers’ wishes may not be the smartest strategy. What will happen if you don’t deliver that feature?
Empathy maps: putting users first. Often, your target customers will be very different from you, and that is why it’s vital to put some effort on empathising with them.
2017 unicorns. A dozen companies have passed the unicorn barrier ($1B valuation) since the beginning of 2017. CBInsights shows us who they are and what they do.