el producto #124 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Angel Jaime
May 25 · 6 min read

Google food delivery integrations, New Macbooks, Jump bike-sharing in London, Data-representation mistakes, Remote user-testing…

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

🎰 The week in figures

$12.6B - valuation reached by local delivery services DoorDash after raising $600M; the company saw a down round in 2016 but has since surpassed the market value of Postmates and Uber Eats in the US; raised $2B to date.

$3.5B - valuation reached by TransferWise following a $292M secondary funding round; TransferWise is now the most valuable fintech company in Europe.

$2.5B - valuation reached by Australian graphic design platform Canva after raising $70M Series D; provides a design tool and a library of stock images, fonts, more; claims 15M users.

~25% of Google Duplex calls begin with human callers, while ~15% start with the AI-powered system and then switch to people; Google says it uses human callers to help train Duplex, noting it uses various signals to determine when a person should be involved.


📰 What’s going on

Google tracks users’ purchases outside of Google services; the company pulls information from receipts sent to Gmail and maintains a list in each user’s account (viewable here); Google says the feature is intended to inform users and that data is not used for ad targeting; Google says the feature is optional .

Google updates Assistant, Maps, and search results with third-party food delivery integrations in US; supports Postmates, DoorDash, others; enables users to place orders without opening additional apps; payment is via Google Pay; Google remembers previous orders to simplify re-ordering.

Google Duo adds group video support for up to eight participants; available for iOS and Android at launch; support schedule for other device unclear; Google also adds the ability to annotate video messages with doodles and emojis; available now for Android, coming soon to iOS.

Google announces the $1k Glass Enterprise Edition 2; the AR headset features numerous improvements over its predecessor, including an upgraded camera and faster processor; this edition is an official Google product, rather than a Google X experiment.

Google pulls Huawei’s Android license following recent trade restrictions by the US Commerce Department. Huawei is still able to use the open source version of Android (AOSP), but apps such as Gmail and Google Play will not be automatically included; existing Huawei devices will continue to have access to Google Play.

Microsoft pulls Huawei servers from its Azure Stack hardware products website; the company has also stopped offering Huawei laptops via its online consumer store.

Huawei exec Richard Yu says the company could launch its own OS for smartphones and laptops by fall this year; it would roll out in China first, with plans to introduce an international version next year; the system would feature Huawei’s App Gallery, its version of an app store; Yu notes the firm will only launch the OS if it’s permanently banned from using Android and Windows.

Amazon is working on an Alexa-powered wearable that can discern human emotions; unclear whether it will become a consumer product; Amazon’s Lab126 team is developing the device in partnership with the firm’s Alexa unit.

Amazon shareholders reject proposals that would have restricted the sale of the company’s Rekognition facial recognition tech to governments; the votes are not binding.

Apple updates the keyboard mechanism on its MacBook Pro lineup; the firm has changed the internal protective layer, and says it should help to prevent against typing response issues; the firm is also including all butterfly-mechanism MacBooks in its Keyboard Service Program; additionally the 15-inch MacBook Pro is now available with 8-core and 6-core processors, while 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar updated with 8th-gen quad-core chips.

Microsoft launches Edge browser for Mac in preview; supports Touch Bar media controls and tab switching; the company announced a new Collections feature, which enables users to save notes, images, more; rolling out in coming weeks.

Microsoft-owned GitHub launches Sponsors, a feature to let users give donations to open source developers; currently available as a beta, gifts can be made without incurring any fees; GitHub is also pledging to match contributions, up to a maximum of $5k for each developer.

Microsoft partners with General Assembly on AI education initiative; the companies will establish standards and credentials for AI skills, and plan to educate 15k people over the next three years; they also plan to develop scalable AI training solutions for companies.

Instagram’s IGTV adds support for landscape video; the platform was previously limited to vertical video; Instagram says it’s responding to feedback from users and creators.

Facebook is set to begin testing its cryptocurrency this year with plans for a public rollout in 2020; referred to internally as GlobalCoin, the company is expected to reveal details of the project this summer. Facebook has held talks with crypto exchanges Coinbase and Gemini about supporting GlobalCoin.

Uber-owned bike-sharing service Jump launches a pilot scheme in London; the firm is making 350 bikes available to rent for £1 for a five minute ride, charging £0.12 for each additional minute.

TikTok-maker Bytedance launches a chat app in China; known as Feiliao, the service lets users create chat groups and forums focused on hobbies and interests; payment functionalities are powered by Alipay; Tencent-owned WeChat is reportedly blocking all links to Feiliao content. Bytedance is also developing a premium music streaming service; the app will offer tracks and music videos; plans to launch the product by end of Q2; it will focus on developing markets.

Tor Project launches the Tor Browser for Android in the Play Store; the team released the first alpha eight months ago; primarily targets mobile-first users at risk for surveillance and censorship; disables cross-site tracking and most fingerprinting tech.

Samsung researchers showcase a technique for using a single still image to generate a clip of a person talking; Samsung’s Moscow research team says the AI-powered modeling method works best with at least a few frames.

Shopify acquires New York City-based B2B e-commerce platform Handshake; sources indicate a price below $100M; the team is now working under Shopify’s extended service unit, Shopify Plus.

Lawmakers in NY propose a ban on using an electronic device while crossing the street; the State Senate has introduced a bill that would see people fined $25 to $50 for a first offense, increasing to $250 for a second violation within 18 months; the rule would cover smartphones, tablets, gaming devices, and more.

Ford unveils Digit, an autonomous package delivery robot developed by Oregon State University spinout Agility Robotics; the robot folds itself into the back of an autonomous van; the van parks in a delivery area and Digit takes packages to doors; the program is a research project, but Ford does plan on launching a self-driving taxi and delivery service by 2021.


👩🏾‍💻Stuff to think about

Data representation rookie mistakes. Avinash Kaushik highlights some (unfortunately very) common errors when showing figures. Look familiar?

Uber and Lyft drivers have learned to manipulate the apps’ price. Every night at Reagan National Airport, they simultaneously turn off their rideshare apps for a few minutes to trick the algorithm into creating an artificial price surge.

The state of Product in AsiaPac (video). Asia may be the future for many areas of business and culture, but in product it feels like most of the thought leadership is coming from Silicon Valley. #mtpcon Singapore brought together a panel of product leaders in Asia to discuss the growing tech scene in the region, and why the future of product management lives in AsiaPac.

6 tips for remote user testing by InVision. It’s hard to gain as many valuable insights from remote sessions compared to face-to-face. These tips will help minimizing that gap.

New apps are helping people learn to flirt. One uses machine learning to evaluate people’s texts and then coaches them on how to be more engaging.


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Angel Jaime

Written by

Full-time learner, product stuff, “triathlete” & global traveller. Former product @ Booking.com and @ Just Eat.