🎰 The week in figures
$6B: Apple plans to invest $6B in its Apple TV+ streaming service; the company initially committed $1B to programming, but has upped its investment to better compete with Netflix, Disney, Amazon, and others. Apple TV+ will cost $10 per month and launch in November; the streaming service will initially offer a small selection of shows, adding more over time; the sources also indicate Apple is likely to offer a free trial.
$8M: Ally, which provides an Objectives and Key Results (OKR) solution, raises $8M Series A; tool integrates with Slack and simplifies quarterly, biannual, and annual goal creation and tracking; serves Remitly and hundreds of other companies across 70+ countries; plans start at $7/month.
15k: Amazon opens its largest-ever campus building in Hyderabad, India; the facility covers 1.8M square feet and can accommodate 15k workers; Amazon’s largest buildings in Seattle houses up to 5k staff.
7: major book publishers jointly file suit against Amazon-owned audiobook company Audible over the company’s new speech-to-text feature; Audible’s license agreements cover spoken versions of books only, and do not allow reprinting of text; the publishers argue that the new captions feature, which enables customers to read along while they listen, is a quintessential copyright violation.
📰 What’s going on
Twitter acqui-hires app creation team Lightwell; terms undisclosed; the team will focus on improving conversations on Twitter; the company’s premium subscription toolset will be available for free going forward; enables developers to create animated interfaces and interactions for iOS apps.
WhatsApp plans to launch a mobile payment wallet in Indonesia; the company is in talks with several digital remittance firms about offering their services via its platform; WhatsApp has launched a peer-to-peer payments service in India, but it’s yet to receive full government approval.
Facebook starts rolling out its Clear History tool in Ireland, South Korea, and Spain; first announced in 2018, the feature was delayed; Clear History promises to give users more control over how their data is used by Facebook and its partners; set to be available to more markets in the coming months.
Facebook has told Instagram to roughly double the number of ads within its app; follows a key meeting earlier this year in which Facebook execs told Instagram it needed to direct users back to Facebook; Facebook has also tasked Instagram with reducing the monetization gap between the two platforms.
Update: Instagram begins testing more ads in its Stories section; the company is testing back-to-back ads from different marketers; Instagram says it’s focus is still on the user experience.
The EU launches an initial probe into Facebook’s Libra project; the European Commission (EC) is investigating whether the digital payments system could stymie competition; the EC is reportedly also concerned about how data will be exchanged when Libra eventually launches.
Microsoft acquires London-based jClarity, which provides app performance management, specifically for Java workloads; jClarity is the lead contributor for the AdoptOpenJDK project; JClarity CEO Martijn Verburg will serve as an engineering group manager; the acquisition will bolster Azure’s Java support and offerings.
Google Photos adds the ability to search for and copy text within images; available via the in-app Lens feature it uses OCR tech to identify and interpret text from screenshots and photos; users can then copy the text and paste it into other apps; available on iOS and Android.
Gmail adds a desktop web tool that automatically highlights and fixes typos when composing a new email; the tool will highlight grammatical errors, underlining them with a blue squiggle; rolling out to G Suite users.
Google launches Play Store redesign for Android; makes use of Google’s Material Theme, introducing more white space and rounded icons; also adds a bottom navigation bar and distinct destinations for apps and games; rolling out now.
Google plans to launch updated Home Mini, renamed Nest Mini; the device will feature a similar form factor as its predecessor but feature a wall mount, improved sound, and a 3.5mm stereo jack; expected to launch this fall.
YouTube says it will shut down it’s built-in Messages feature next month; launched in 2017, Messages let users share videos and chat within YouTube itself; YouTube says it wants to focus on improving public conversations.
Google’s Area 120 incubator is testing Fundo, which enables YouTube creators to offer premium services and events, such as customized video shoutouts and virtual meet-and-greets; the program is in beta, currently invite-only.
Apple’s next iPhone lineup will include Pro branding; the company is expected to announce new iPhones next month that feature three lenses on the back; Apple will reportedly also launch updated iPad Pros this fall, and it will discontinue the 9.7-inch iPad; the firm is also developing waterproof airpods, though it’s unclear when they will be released.
Apple launches the Apple Card in general availability in the US; created in partnership with Goldman Sachs and Mastercard and accepted by all businesses that accept Mastercard; fully integrated with Apple Pay and offers visualized spending analysis; Apple Pay purchases get two percent cash back; the physical titanium card provides one percent cash back.
Apple has terminated its contract with a company that provided quality assurance services for Siri; Apple suspended human reviews of Siri recordings following a report that contractors regularly heard private interactions.
Apple Watch patent includes millimeter wave tech, meaning a future model will likely support 5G wireless or 802.11ad Wi-Fi; would also power device-to-device communications.
Spotify adds parental controls for its family plan; lets the primary Spotify account holder control whether other users linked to the plan can listen to explicit content; comes as the company also announces Family Mix, a custom playlist designed to appeal to a family of users; the features are rolling out now, starting with users in Ireland.
Fitbit signs a partnership with the government of Singapore to provide residents with fitness trackers; Singaporeans will be entitled to a free Fitbit Inspire band if they sign up for a $10 per month coaching plan for a minimum 12 month term.
Reddit is testing a live video streaming feature for users this week; the Reddit Public Access Network is limited to standard work hours and is monitored and moderated by Reddit employees; limited to 100 Reddit-curated streams at a time, with each stream limited to 30 minutes.
DoorDash acquires self-driving startup Scotty Labs; terms undisclosed; Scotty is developing remotely accessed autonomous driving systems; it’s unclear how DoorDash will implement the company’s tech
Amazon launched two-hour grocery deliveries in India on Aug 23; starting with Bengaluru, customers can choose from 5k Amazon Fresh products including fruits, vegetables, and meats; Amazon Fresh will later roll out to additional markets including Mumbai and Hyderabad.
Ikea announces the Home smart business unit, which will oversee all of the company’s smart home products; Ikea has rebranded its connected light bulb app as Home smart, and will update it to manage numerous devices.
The Linux Foundation announces the Confidential Computing Consortium, which plans standards, frameworks, and tools for protecting data used by apps, services, and devices; members include Google, Microsoft, Red Hat, IBM, Intel, and Alibaba.
China-based smartphone firms Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo partner to develop an AirDrop-like file transfer system; the companies say the tech will work across their Android-based devices, using Bluetooth to authenticate connections; the system promises to support 20MB per second transfers; a beta version of the service will launch later this month.
👩🏾💻 Good reads
The 4 parts of an MVP. An MVP is more than a product, it’s a route to learning.
10 examples of how brands are using chatbots to delight customers. From Starbucks to Mastercard, Larry Kim shows us few examples of good chatbot experiences.
Platform Management by Brandon Chu (VP of Product at Shopify). According to Brandon, a product is building something to ship to customers and a platform is building a place where other builders or creators can build things to ship to customers. In this keynote he explains different types of platforms, and shares some lessons about platform growth.
Science Friction. It’s not always about making things easier. Irrational Labs explains when to make a sign up flow harder. Friction is not always bad.
Keep a healthy network. Reach out, stay in touch and deepen your connections with this essential networking advice by First Round Review.