el producto #59 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
Accenture’s 2x2 disruption matrix, Apple’s new AirPods and iPads, Facebook Music?, Uber Express Pool, Spotify’s hardware, Amazon’s Alexa fund & more.
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto!
📰 What’s going on
Google rolls out Google Pay for Android; offers contactless payments, remittances, loyalty cards management, and more; Android Pay users are being updated to the new app which also includes features from Google Wallet and Pay With Google.
Google’s self-driving car unit, Waymo, secures a permit to operate a ride-hailing service in Arizona; has been running a fully driverless pilot program in Phoenix since November 2017; the company plans to launch a full commercial service in 2018.
Google discontinues its “View Image” and “Search by Image” buttons; changes are the result of an agreement with Getty Images, which complained to the European Commission in 2016 that the tools made it too easy for people to use the company’s photos without attribution.
More than 40 device manufacturers and mobile carriers now support Rich Communication Services (RCS: next-generation SMS); Google has been pushing for adoption of the GSM standard tech; RCS Business Messaging, for example, provides sender verification, rich content like boarding passes, suggested responses, more.
A built-in screenshot editing tool for the Google app is in beta testing on Android; allows users to crop and draw on screenshots before sharing them.
Google launches AdSense Auto Ads which make use of ML to automatically place ads; promises to identify new locations for ads, and to only display them when they’re likely to perform well.
Apple is developing new AirPod variants for release over the next 2 years; a version with an upgraded chip and “Hey Siri” activation will launch later this year, while water-resistant AirPods are expected in 2019. Also preparing to launch two new iPad models as early as next month.
Apple applies to expand the Apple TV trademark to cover video games, consoles, and controllers; in December, Apple applied for a patent on gaming tech involving artificial terrain noise maps.
Apple releases iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS updates resolving a bug that crashed the OS when exposed to specific Unicode symbols; the iOS update also resolves an issue that prevented some third-party apps from connecting to external devices.
Facebook will send anyone who purchases an ad that mentions a political candidate a postcard with a code to verify that they have a US address; new system to be in place before the midterm congressional elections in November.
Facebook moving into music? Facebook signed a licensing agreement with ICE, which licenses songs and collects royalties for 290k rightsholders in 160 territories; ICE currently has 31M works in its database; Facebook has recently secured licensing agreements with Universal Music Group, Sony/ATV, Kobalt, HFA/Rumblefish and Global Music Rights.
Twitter announces the end of its Twitter for Mac app; Mac users will now go directly to Twitter.com instead; the app is no longer available in the Mac App Store, where it was relatively poorly reviewed with one and a half stars.
Citymapper launches Smart Ride, a hybrid bus and taxi service in London; riders can book a seat in an eight-person vehicle that runs along a set route with pre-determined stops; Citymapper had planned on operating larger buses, but the company did not receive regulatory approval; authorities ultimately issued a private hire taxi license for the Smart Ride service.
Spotify is establishing a hardware division; the company has posted listings for a number of supply chain, manufacturing, and marketing jobs; full plans unknown, but Spotify says it aims to create “category defining” hardware.
Samsung launches an Android app that will soon let people preview the Galaxy S9 in AR; Samsung’s Unpacked 2018 app includes the hidden AR feature, which is expected to be activated during the smartphone’s launch event at Mobile World Congress.
Samsung patents a drone that can be controlled using head, hand, and eye gestures; the filing also suggests the system could support voice control as well as GPS and Wi-Fi positioning.
Uber begins rolling out Express Pool to select cities including Los Angeles, Miami, and Philadelphia; the service offers lower-cost rides for those willing to walk to a nearby pickup spot; Express Pool has been in testing in San Francisco and Boston since last November.
Sony to form an alliance to develop an AI-powered taxi-hailing service in Japan; partners include Daiwa, Kokusai Motorcars, Green Cab, others.
Airbnb starts targeting concerts to Hosts in their own cities. In a recent campaign promoting concerts at the city of the host, they included a form to capture interest in this type of product.
🎰 Figures this week
AI startups around the world raised $15.2B last year; Chinese companies represented 48%of the funding; US startups represented 38%; 2017 was the first year in which Chinese AI companies surpassed US AI companies in funding, though the US still has more AI startups than China; total AI investment rose 141% last year, compared to 2016.
📚 Stuff to think about
How Didi plans to take over the world. First, they won China to Uber, now they are looking global.
Amazon’s Alexa Fund. How Amazon is investing in an Alexa-everywhere future; from motion sensors to wearable phones for kids.
Make the world a better place: turning our global problems into opportunities. Danish firm Sustainia has put together a report highlighting how companies can make money helping the world by focusing on 2015 UNs Sustainable Development Goals. Full report here.
The 2 different interpretations of Jobs To Be Done. Excellent read on 2 different approaches to JTBD. According to the author, none of them is right or wrong, and JTBD methodology is not as mature as we may think (its main evangelizers are still heavily relying on assumptions).
How likely is your industry to be disrupted? HBR explains Accenture’s Disruptability matrix.