Samsung’s voice assistant and smart speaker, Facebook’s 360 pics, Android Oreo, Cross-platform gaming, Strategies of the big, 1st Uber pitch deck & more.
Facebook is bringing jobs, retailers and tickets to its marketplace, slowly moving away from your-neighbour-junk Craiglists’ style.
Samsung is joining the home speaker race, and launching its own assistant “Bixby” to +200 countries prior to that. Meanwhile, Google has added bluetooth pairing to its own Home device, allowing users to stream from any bluetooth device (like Amazon’s Echo).
Check out this weeks good reads and podcasts for some insights on Facebook, Apple, Google’s strategies & tactics, and a deep-dive on Amazon’s future bets.
📰 Seen on the news
Facebook to expand its Craigslist-like Marketplace to include event tickets, products from retailer pages, more; currently features local goods listings, jobs, daily deals from eBay, more; initially limited to listings from individual users, now branching out to test the popularity of partner listings.
Facebook’s apps now take 360-degree photos; users can add the images to their timelines and albums; the site now supports zooming in on spherical images and tagging friends; can now be used for Cover Photos.
Facebook creates a dedicated button for Safety Check, the feature that lets users near a natural disaster, terror attack, or other tragedy post their statuses for loved ones to see; the new permanent page lets users explore active locations around the world to check statuses and to donate money.
WhatsApp launches Status updates with colored backgrounds; users can also adjust the font and add links.
Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant launches in more than 200 countries including the UK, Australia, and Canada; the service still only supports US English and Korean, but the firm says it will add more languages over time.
Samsung is developing a smart speaker, according to DJ Koh, president of Samsung Mobile; Koh says a formal announcement could come soon; also notes he is pursuing a home experience built around Samsung products.
Oculus applies for a patent on an augmented reality glasses display; the application came from three members of Oculus’ advanced research division; indicates the glasses will use a waveguide display to project light onto the user’s eye.
Google launches Android Oreo (v8.0); new Notification Dots indicate which applications have new information available; long-pressing an icon opens the list; adds picture-in-picture (for supporting apps); has Autofill for login credentials, card numbers, etc; Settings screen has been simplified; Instant Apps is enabled by default; features improved security.
Google updates Home with Bluetooth pairing, according to multiple user reports; enables using Home as a Bluetooth speaker so users can stream music from services that aren’t available on the speaker itself. Also reportedly developing headphones that will run Google Assistant.
Google Express partners with Walmart, allowing customers to buy products via Google Home; comes as the firm also drops its $95 annual fee, offering free delivery on orders that meet a store’s minimum.
Netflix plans to spend $7B on content next year, compared to $6B this year and $5B last year; most spending is still on licensed content, but the company plans to be splitting spending evenly between original and licensed content within the next few years.
Bloomberg profiles anticipated features of the next iPhone and the devices in which they previously appeared; includes an OLED display (Samsung Galaxy S8, Motorola Z2 Force, OnePlus 5), and a virtual home button (Samsung Galaxy S8, Pixel, Essential Phone).
Apple to launch a new Apple TV with 4K and HDR support; to be unveiled alongside the new iPhone and Watch in September; the company will also update its TV app.
Uber adds driver-friendly features: drivers can reject rides if they will take too long; drivers can select only delivery trips, only Uber Select rides, etc; drivers can schedule up to six destinations per day, ensuring rides that will end near a desired location around a certain time.
Lyft saw a 60% increase in passenger account activations following the #DeleteUber social campaign.
Medium to allocate author payments according to the number of Claps (likes) each reader gives articles; a reader makes a $5 monthly payment and can click the Clap button at the bottom of each article as many times as they like to allocate a percentage of those funds to that article’s author.
Evan Blass publishes purported image of a new Nest thermostat; the company’s popular $250 Learning Thermostat hasn’t been redesigned since its 2011 launch.
Microsoft Research reduced the word error rate for its speech recognition and transcription tech to match that of a team of humans; last year achieved 5.9 percent error rate, matching an individual person; has now achieved 5.1 percent, matching a group of people working together.
Microsoft is in talks with Sony to facilitate cross-platform multiplayer gaming; would enable PlayStation and Xbox users to play together online.
Microsoft files a patent for a wand-like AR controller; the device features a finger guard, trigger, and buttons; unclear if or when a product will be launched; a HoloLens promo video features a similar controller
Researchers at Barcelona’s Universitat Oberta de Catalunya develop a new method of digital watermarking for photos, audio, and video; can embed data at 11kbps, compared with the current 50 to 500bps; works with the H.264 codec; can hold the information required to restore altered media to its original state.
No-kill meats. A company funded by Richard Branson and Bill gates is using animal muscle cells to produce slaugther-free meat.
Elon Musk publishes the first image of SpaceX’s spacesuit; Musk says more details will be revealed soon; also notes the suit has been tested to double vacuum pressure.
📚 Good reads
How Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest hook users. Nir Eyal’s Hooked is a modern essential book in Product Management (and frequently quoted in elproducto). If you haven’t had the chance to read it yet, the author has just published this article summarising its main points.
Product Managers: What is your unfair advantage? Jeff Morris, Director of Product Management at Tinder, on how mastering certain skills can be an asset in Product Management.
A Beginner’s Guide to AI/ML. A nice series of posts introducing Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.
Amazon’s strategic bets. CBInsights brings us an extensive report on the direction Amazon is heading: AI, next-gen logistics, and enterprise cloud apps.
The strategies and tactics of the big. What works for Apple doesn’t necessarily have to work for Facebook or Google. The nature of each business calls for more or less structured organisation. One of my favourite podcasts, a16z, talks about the rationale behind Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple orgs, looking at how their strategies and tactics differentiate around their core capabilities and products.
Curiosity: Uber’s first pitch deck from 2008