el producto #119 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Lessons from Bezos’ annual letters, Zoom & Pinterest IPO, Facebook’s voice assistant, Reserving Lime scooters, New Nintendo Switch and Xbox One…


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

🎰 The week in figures

$1B - raised Uber’s autonomous car division from Toyota, Denso, and SoftBank’s Vision Fund; the funding values Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group at $7.25B.

208M - global smart speaker install base by the end of this year, according to Canalys research; up from 114M in 2018.

72% - Video conferencing company Zoom debuts in Nasdaq 72% up; the company priced its float at $36 per share for a $9.2B valuation; closed at $62 per share.

28% - Pinterest debuts on the NYSE 28% up; the company priced the offering at $19 per share; the pricing valued the company at $10B; closed its first day of trading at $24.40 per share.

12MP - Apple will introduce a 12MP front-facing camera on the next iPhone models; Apple is also expected to add a triple-array back camera to 6.5-inch and 5.8-inch iPhone models.


📰 What’s going on

Apple to bring Siri Shortcuts and other iOS features to macOS with version 10.15; Shortcuts enables users to create voice commands for actions in various apps; v10.15 reportedly will also feature Screen Time and a new Apple ID management panel; Apple is expected to unveil the new macOS at WWDC in June.

iOS v13 will include system-wide Dark Mode, support for apps with multiple windows and detachable cards; v13 reportedly adds a universal undo gesture; Apple is expected to showcase the update at WWDC in June.

Apple is developing an app for locating various devices, including a new Tile-like tracking tag; the app, code-named Greentorch, reportedly will replace the Find My Friends and Find My iPhone apps and will find devices not connected to Wi-Fi or cellular networks.

Amazon shareholders to vote May 22 on a proposal that would prohibit the company from selling its Rekognition facial recognition tech to governments; the board opposes the proposal; shareholders will also vote on a proposal for third-party analysis of Rekognition’s potential privacy and human rights implications.

Amazon Music launches ad-supported service for Alexa devices in the US; enables users to listen to stations and top playlists for free; does not allow specific artist nor song selections; does not require Prime membership.

Google and Amazon say YouTube will be available on Amazon’s Fire TV once more; Google pulled YouTube from Amazon’s platform in late 2017; Amazon Prime Video will add support for Chromecast and Android TV.

Google will block logins via in-app browsers and other embedded frameworks from June; the company says such browsers make it difficult to protect against man-in-the-middle attacks.

Desktop Chrome is set to add a reader mode; Google has rolled out the feature to Chrome Canary users; offers a simplified view, stripping out videos, ads, and more; unknown when it will launch fully.

YouTube launches ad-supported, limited version of Music on Google Assistant speakers; requires the user to set YouTube Music as the default music service; the user can then request genres or moods, but not specific artists, albums, nor songs.

Facebook confirms it’s developing an AI-powered voice assistant for Oculus, Portal, and future devices; the assistant has been in development since early 2018; the project is being overseen by Ira Snyder, a general manager at Facebook Reality Labs.

Facebook will discontinue its Messenger payments service in the UK and France on June 15; Facebook notes it wants to focus on features users find “most useful”; the remittance service will continue in the US.

Microsoft acquires IoT OS developer Express Logic; Express Logic’s ThreadX is one of the most-deployed real-time operating systems in the world, with ~6.2B deployments; plans to offer as an Azure Sphere processing option.

Twitter acqui-hires Highly, which enables a user to highlight text from an article for social sharing; Highly to shut down its apps on April 26; could enable Twitter users to share links to articles and display select quotes.

Salesforce acquires location platform MapAnything; the company offers enterprise tools for managing when and where to place staff.

Lime begins testing a feature to let riders reserve scooters up to 15 minutes ahead of time; currently available via iOS only, the option is being piloted in Brisbane, Australia, Lyon, France, and Tel Aviv, Israel.

Uber and Lyft launch new security procedures following the death of a woman who, police believe, mistook her alleged murderer as an Uber driver; Uber will send push notifications reminding riders to check vehicle models, plates, and driver identities; Lyft implemented ongoing criminal checks for drivers, which Uber began last year.

Uber launches a feature in Saudi Arabia that lets women drivers opt to pick up female passengers only; initially rolled out as a pilot test last year.

Waymo makes its app for ordering autonomous taxis, Waymo One, available via Google Play; previously limited to Phoenix residents and early rider program members via private link; currently, signing into the app adds a user to a wait list; booking becomes available once approved; the program remains limited to Phoenix.

Just Eat acquires PoS company Practi for ÂŁ6.7M; Just Eat will also pay additional bonuses based on performance; Practi offers iPad-based payment and inventory tools to restaurants.

Nintendo will launch a smaller, lower-cost Nintendo Switch this fall; the device will be focused on portability but will still be able to connect to a TV; Nintendo plans to launch a more powerful next-gen Switch at a later date.

Microsoft officially announces the recently leaked Xbox One S All-Digital Edition: a $250 disk-free console launching May 7 (pre-orders now open); includes three free titles: “Minecraft,” “Sea of Thieves,” and “Forza Horizon 3”; also announced a $15-per-month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.

European Parliament approves new copyright rules that require online platforms secure licensing agreements from rights holders.


📚 Something to think about

22 lessons from Jeff Bezos’ annual letters to shareholders. To read Bezos’ shareholder letters is to get a crash course in running a high-growth internet business from someone who mastered it before any of the playbooks were written.CB Insights analyzed the letters and unpacked the most important wisdom in each.

What makes people upgrade products? Thinking about self-improvement. HBR shows how, through a series of experiments, researchers first discovered then validated that evoking thoughts of self-improvement when promoting new versions of products may be an effective means of motivating product upgrades.

Key trends in designing for privacy and data protection. After several scandals by big tech companies in the last couple of years, privacy has become a very hot topic (and sometimes headache) for tech professionals. InVision has put together some useful advice on how to tackle this sensitive topic.

Why limiting work in progress can increase flow and value in product development. John Cutler created a brief video with advice on creating flow and value in product development. Transcript also in the link.


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