el producto #112 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Facebook video advertising, Apple sleep monitoring, Foldable phones, Uber-> Careem adquisition talks, Alexa accelerator, Outcome-oriented roadmaps,…


Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.

🎰 The week in figures

$3B - valuation of China-based Horizon Robotics after raising $600M Series B; the company develops chips for use in neural networks.

$1.7B - Volkswagen plans to invest to establish an autonomous driving joint venture with Ford; Ford’s Argo subsidiary will serve as the foundation for the 50–50 venture.

$800k / hour - amount that Vivendi, Sony, and Warner make from music streaming services; the three saw ~$7B from streaming services last year, more than half of their total music revenue; labels keep as much as 80% of per-play payouts.

$35k - Tesla launches the base version of the Model 3, starting at $35k; promises 220-mile range; Tesla also announced it’s shifting all sales online

~$1.70 - Spotify launches in India; Premium costs ~$1.70 per month (compares with $10 in the US); also offering ad-supported Free tier.

39% - US ride-hailing market claimed by Lyft on it’s IPO prospectus, up 17% over 2016; saw a net loss of $911M on $2.2B revenue in 2018; revenue was up 100% YoY; saw $8.1B in bookings, up 76% YoY.


📰 What’s going on

Twitter is testing a hide tweet option; the feature appears among tweet share options and is seemingly intended for hiding specific replies; users can still opt to view hidden tweets.

Facebook announces video advertising service Showcase; lets marketers run video ads against particular types of content, such as sports, food, or news; companies can also choose to sponsor specific shows.

Google announces Google Assistant for Android Messages; Assistant suggests searches based on conversations; the initial chat monitoring happens on the users’ device only, but searches are sent to the web if a user taps on the Assistant suggestion.

Google Assistant expands support for multi-language speakers; users can switch between several languages; Assistant is also adding support for voice typing on feature phone platform KaiOS; additionally, numerous OEMs are including dedicated Assistant hardware buttons with new Android devices; includes smartphones from LG, Nokia, and Xiaomi.

Google Docs rolls out automatic grammar suggestions for G Suite users.

Google Home devices are set to add support for Apple Music; Apple Music shows as an option for connected music services within the Google Home app.

Apple is testing a sleep monitoring feature for Apple Watch; if successful, the company plans to launch sleep tracking next year; Apple may increase battery capacity and/or introduce a low-power mode to allow for overnight use.

Amazon discontinues its hardware Dash buttons; priced at $5 each, the buttons let users order brand items such as detergent and trash bags with a single press; Amazon will continue to support existing buttons.

Amazon launches Amazon Day, enabling Prime members to select a day of the week for delivery; the company consolidates orders into fewer boxes for delivery on the same day; the user selects the Amazon Day option at checkout to include an order in the scheduled delivery; Amazon noted a significant reduction in the use of packing materials.

Amazon plans to launch a new grocery store chain separate from Whole Foods; Los Angeles to open first; two more locations to open in 2020; sources say Amazon is in talks for stores in Chicago, DC, Seattle.

Amazon announces the 3rd annual Alexa Accelerator, in partnership with Techstars; the 13-week program will provide up to 10 startups with Amazon and Techstars mentorship; targets teams developing voice-focused developer tools, software and services, and devices with Alexa built in..

Facebook plans a cryptocurrency for WhatsApp users; the company reportedly has spoken with exchanges about selling the currency, which would facilitate user-to-user payments; Telegram, Signal, Line, and others reportedly have similar plans.

Huawei unveils foldable 5G Mate X smartphone; the device features the company’s Kirin 980 processor, and a wraparound OLED display that can be folded out to form an 8-inch tablet. TCL and Oppo also announced foldable prototype devices.

Microsoft unveils HoloLens 2 “mixed reality” headset; the company is working with partners including Airbus, Honeywell, Pearson, and Saab on launch software for the device; the controller-free headset is set to be available later this year for $3.5k.

Microsoft and VMWare are partnering on data management software; the companies are developing tools to let customers move data between private VMWare-powered data centers and Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

Microsoft releases Azure Kinect Developer Kit; the intelligent edge device facilitates computer vision and speech solutions; features a 1-megapixel depth sensor, a 12-megapixel high-depth camera, and a spatial 7-microphone array.

Uber in advanced talks to acquire Dubai-based ride-share company Careem; the cash-and-share deal reportedly values Careem at ~$3B; Careem claims 1M-plus drivers and serves more than 100 cities in the Middle East.

Uber-owned Jump is beginning to score more electric bicycle riders than Uber’s own ridesharing cars; a recent breakdown of Uber riders in Sacramento was 53% for Uber’s Jump Bikes and 47% for Uber’s car service.

Uber and Lyft will let some drivers participate in their IPOs; both firms plan to award their longest-serving drivers with cash or stock awards before they go public; Lyft will reward drivers who’ve completed at least 10k rides with $1k cash or stock equivalent; drivers with 20k completed trips will be offered $20k; Uber is still working out the details of its plan.

India-based ride-hailing firm Ola spins out its EV division, raises $56.4M; Ola Electric is running a number of schemes to test EVs and charging stations and plans to have 1M EVs on India’s roads by 2022.

Citymapper launches a contactless travel pass for use on London’s public transit network; Citymapper Pass costs £31 (~$41) per week, which compares with £35 (~$47) for Transport for London’s weekly travel card (Citymapper Pass customers must purchase in four-week blocks).

Medium says paywalled content will be freely available to readers coming from Twitter; Medium CEO Ev Williams says paid views will be continue to be counted separately.

Nubia announces Nubia Alpha, a smartwatch with some smartphone functionality; features a 4-inch flexible display and a 5MP camera; runs Snapdragon Wear 2100 with 1GB and 8GB storage; launches in April for ~$500.

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says the company will launch a redesigned Snapchat app for Android by the end of the year.

Scooter-sharing firm Lime issues an advisory notice acknowledging a software bug has led to instances of excessive braking; the company says it’s issued an update to address the problem, but notes riders should test brakes before they begin their rides; follows reports of injuries.

Y Combinator says startups will no longer have to apply to join its Startup School program; the 10-week program offers online classes, with founders submitting company status reports, and more; follows an error last year where YC inadvertently accepted 15k firms, only to then honor the offers.

Spectre Camera (iOS) lets users shoot long exposure images; captures light trails and uses AI to remove people and other moving objects; Spectre can also capture Live Photos.


📚 Something to think about

The journey of a Message. Texting is one of the quickest ways to get in touch with someone, but one message’s path from sender to recipient is surprisingly complex.

Do you have an outcome-oriented roadmap, or a list of features? Roadmaps are not release plans. They do not define deliverables by iteration, but rather outline why we intend to deliver. This article includes 6 tests to assess the quality of outcome-oriented roadmaps.

Wireframes are becoming less relevant — and that’s a good thing. Sean Dexter challenges wireframe’s effectivity, and suggests that higher fidelity alternatives are becoming more affordable.

Technical debt, who is responsible? Stefan Wolpers looks at ways to sustainably handle technical debt — a grey area in the Scrum Guide as he points out.


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