el producto #126 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Angel Jaime
Jun 8 · 8 min read

Apple WWDC updates, Uber Copter to launch in NYC, Didi international expansion, Google’s AR search results, Qualitative research for startups,…

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

🎰 The week in figures

$4.1B - Fitness startup Peloton has confidentially filed for its IPO. The New York-based company was reportedly valued at over $4.1B last August when it raised a $550M Series F.

~€4B - Volkswagen says it will spend through 2023 to digitize its operations; plans to introduce new tech across its administration and production processes; Volkswagen says the efforts will create 2k new jobs, but notes up to 4k non-production roles may be cut.

$2.6B - Google acquires analytics, business intelligence, and data visualization company Looker for $2.6B; Google will integrate the company into its Cloud business; claimed 1.6k customers.

~$135M - revenue reported by Slack for Q1, up 67% YoY; lost ~$32M; 95k paying customers, up 42%; the company plans a June 20 direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

+10k - number of developers and engineers Huawei is using to work on proprietary software and hardware solutions following the US trade ban; staff are working extended hours as the company tries to overcome supply shortages and technical restrictions.

3.2k - satellites Jeff Bezos wants put into low Earth orbit as part of Project Kuiper, a broadband network.

📰 What’s going on

Netflix tests a new tab in its mobile apps called Extras; lets users find trailers, recommended Netflix Originals, and set reminders; subscribers can also share show links and more; unknown if or when it will roll out fully.

Instagram introduces Branded Content Ads, a tool that lets marketers promote sponsored influencer posts; such posts may reach users who don’t already follow featured influencers.

Uber adds Uber Eats functionality to its main app as part of a pilot; the company has integrated the web version of Uber Eats with its ride-hailing app for users in certain markets.

Uber announces Uber Copter, a helicopter service that operates between lower Manhattan and JFK Airport; promises a journey time of roughly 8min, which compares with 1h or longer by car; the service is launching July 9 and Uber says trips will cost approximately $200 to $225 per person.

Didi Chuxing launches in Valparaiso, Chile and Bogota, Colombia; the firm says it plans to roll out to several other local markets over time; follows expansion into Mexico, Brazil (where it acquired 99), Australia, and Taiwan.

Spotify launches its playlists-centric app Stations for iOS in Australia; previously available for Android (also limited to Australia) the app lets users choose available playlists; users can also create their own based on an artist, but they cannot search for individual tracks or albums.

Twitter acquires London-based Fabula AI, which developed machine learning tech to identify deceptive online content; terms undisclosed; the team will join an internal research group at Twitter.

Amazon announces its autonomous Prime Air drone will begin commercial deliveries to select customers in coming months; promises orders within 30min for users living <7.5 miles of some of its warehouses.

Amazon unveils StyleSnap: a new feature within the Amazon mobile app that uses AI to analyze images of clothing items and find similar styles available for sale; essentially functions as a Shazam for fashion.

Amazon announces Alexa Conversations, a feature that will allow the user to invoke multiple Alexa skills by asking follow-up questions; will initially be limited to “dinner and a movie” functionality, enabling the user to book a table and buy film tickets; Amazon said the feature would dramatically reduce the length and complexity of Alexa interactions.

Amazon announces Clicks and Mortar, a pop-up store pilot program for the UK; the company will offer 100 online retailers temporary slots in brick-and-mortar locations; the first store opens today in Manchester, and several more are planned across the country; the scheme will run for 12 months.

Amazon files a patent that suggests Alexa may begin processing voice data before a user speaks the wake-word; the filing describes buffering audio so users don’t have to say “Alexa” at the start of a command; for example a user could say “play music Alexa”; Alexa currently monitors for speech at all times but only transmits data after the wake-word is used.

Google Maps adds SOS Alerts; the feature notifies users of nearby emergencies such as extreme weather events and natural disasters; navigation tools will also direct people away from crises; Google is also adding more real-time info and visual data for SOS Alerts in Search; variety of alerts varies by region and device type.

Google is rolling out a Play Store redesign; the Material Theme design adds a bottom category bar, drops nested tabs, and more.

Google launches AR objects in search results; initially limited to searches for animals; requires an AR-enabled phone; if the user searches for a tiger, Google provides the option to view a 3D tiger within the user’s space; the animal appears in scale to the environment.

Google is set to discontinue its Trips app for Android; an analysis of the app code reveals a message to users notifying them of the planned shutdown; it’s unclear when; also unknown if the iOS version is going away.

Google to launch game streaming service Stadia in the US and 12 European countries in November; the company has opened pre-orders for the $130 Stadia Founder’s Edition, which includes a Chromecast Ultra, controller, and three months of service. Will launch web and mobile versions next year; also plans a free version.

Google takes ~5% stake in AR tech startup Hello TeamSolar; the deal gives the startup a $10M post-valuation; the company is developing a platform for shared, multi-device experiences; will work with Google on branded, large-scale content and apps with location-based AR services.

Walmart announces in-home deliveries; delivery staff will gain access to customer homes via smart locks; they will also wear bodycams so customers can monitor activities; workers will also be able to collect customer returns.

Bird is in talks to acquire rival scooter-sharing firm Scoot; Scoot operates in San Francisco and has raised $47M to date.

India draft bill would impose fines and up to 10 years in prison for those mining, holding, or using cryptocurrencies; if the bill becomes law, cryptocurrency holders will have 90 days to report and dispose of their holdings; India reportedly plans an official national digital currency.

5G and China trade. Facebook has pulled its apps (Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp) from the default install on Huaweii devices; they will still be accessible through app stores. Meanwhile, Russian telco MTC has signed a deal with Huawei to build 5G network for the country; expected to launch service by end 2019 or 2020. The expected cost of blocking chinese firms from participating in EU 5G networks will be around €55B.

🍏Apple’s WWDC updates

iPadOS with Dark Mode, swipe-to-type, home screen widgets, Slide Over side panel for multitasking, multi-window apps, App Exposé, column view for Files, improved file and folder sharing, expanded external device support, desktop-class web browsing with Download Manager, more.

iOS 13, promising performance-improving optimizations, reduced app download and update sizes, and faster Face ID unlock; features system-wide Dark Mode, swipe-to-type, intelligent sharing suggestions, stricter privacy controls, and Sign in with Apple (coming to other platforms, generates randomized email addresses for logins).

WatchOS 6 includes new faces, haptic chimes, the Streaming Audio API, new health and fitness features, and independent apps (no iPhone apps required); new Apple apps include Audiobooks, Voice Memos, Calculator (with tip calculations and bill-splitting), and App Store; Apple is launching a menstrual Cycle Tracking feature in the Health app for Watch and iOS.

tvOS, with full-screen previews on the home screen, multi-user support with personalized recommendations, a new Control Center, synchronized song lyrics, and support for Xbox One S and PlayStation DualShock 4 game controllers

macOS Catalina with dedicated apps for Music, Podcasts, and TV; device sync options are in the Finder; Podcasts indexes audio content for search; Catalina’s new Sidecar feature enables using an iPad as a secondary display and Pencil input; adds Voice Control for accessibility, the Find My app with Tile-like offline locations, more; Apple also detailed Catalyst, with simplifies developing apps for multiple Apple platforms

Apple removes Dashboard in macOS 10.15 Catalina; the feature hosts widgets such as a clock and sticky notes, and was first introduced in 2005; it hasn’t been updated since 2011 and has been disabled by default since the Yosemite update in 2014.

Apple confirms mouse support in iPadOS and iOS 13; the company says the tool is predominantly intended as an accessibility feature; it will work with wired and Bluetooth devices.

Apple updates App Store policy, reversing its ban on apps that compete with Screen Time; developers complained that Apple was engaging in anti-competitive behavior, but the company said it rejected such apps for misusing Mobile Device Management.

Apple will enforce its Sign in with Apple feature for all apps that offer other single sign-in options; the feature lets users create accounts and login using Face ID or Touch ID.

New Mac Pro; returns to a tower design for simple upgrade access; features an Intel Xeon with up to 28 cores, up to 1.5TB of 2933MHz memory, Mac Pro Expansion Module (MPX) for multiple GPU support, Afterburner hardware graphics accelerator (three streams of 8K video); also announced Pro Display XDR.

Redesigned CarPlay; promises to show users more relevant info such as showing maps alongside music controls and Siri suggestions; Siri will also not cover the whole display when responding to voice requests.

Apple in talks to acqui-hire autonomous driving software company Drive.ai; Apple plans to integrate the team into its Project Titan unit.

👩🏾‍💻Good reads

When building new products goes wrong. Kim Bost, Principal Product Designer at Dropbox, shares some tips to help you do what is deceptively simple — delivering business impact.

From designer to product executive — 10 lessons. Sid Yadav explains what he learned on the journey from an individual contributor to a manager, and then from a manager to an executive.

Why qualitative research is indispensable for any startup. “Good qualitative market research sparks insights and adds fuel to the creative fire….If you want to know what your target is doing or how much, then go for quantitative research. But if you want to know why they’re doing it, or why they believe what they believe, qualitative research can get you that depth of perspective.

Disruption starts with unhappy customers, not technology. HBR article looking at the cases of several incumbents and disruptors in different industries, and the commonality of customer-focus success.

You are doing email wrong. Not product-related, but all of us have to deal with email like it or not. Dani Donovan recommends subtle change to create a big impact in how we think of ourselves or frame issues via email.

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Angel Jaime

Written by

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