el producto #74 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
Apple WWDC2018 news, WeChat IDs, Uber bike-sharing expansion, Instagram discovery, Success is a marathon, Google Lens app, Amazon robots & more.
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto!
🎰 The week in figures
50B podcast episodes streamed or downloaded since Apple’s Podcasts launch; the app now features more than 550k active shows representing 18.5M episodes from 155 countries in more than 100 languages; up from 3k shows in 2005 and from 525k in April.
14M users notified by Facebook that a privacy setting bug might have made status posts, intended to be private, publicly visible; for a period in May, the suggested privacy setting for new posts defaulted to the last used setting; the company has warned potentially affected users to review the settings for statuses posted between May 18 and May 22.
8M people use Google’s public Wi-Fi program Google Station every month in India; launched in 2015, the service is now available at 400 train stations across the country; has since expanded to Indonesia and Mexico.
📰 What’s going on
Snapchat launches SeatGeek integration, enabling fans to by tickets for concerts and sporting events via Stories and via Snapcodes embedded in websites; swipe-to-buy feature completes purchases within the app.
Instagram is set to launch a Snapchat Discover-like feature; will offer music videos, scripted shows, and more in a vertical format; follows a report the firm will support videos up to 60 minutes long.
Facebook is funding original news programming from seven TV industry partners, including CNN, ABC News, and Fox News Channel; scheduled to launch this summer on Facebook Watch.
Facebook announces it’s testing promoted Marketplace listings; some users can advertise their item listings to neighbors using Marketplace, and in the News Feeds of neighbors not browsing Marketplace; an advertiser can set a budget and campaign duration.
Google launches a standalone app for Google Lens on Android; as with Lens in Google Assistant and Google Photos, the app lets users search for objects, landmarks, text, and more.
Google will rollout the Gmail web redesign to general users from next month (already available via an early adopter program); users will initially be able to opt-out, but the update will become permanent later this year.
Google publishes new guidelines for AI development; includes a ban on autonomous weapons; CEO Sundar Pichai says the company will continue working with government and military groups to develop AI for recruiting, training, search and rescue; Google recently chose not to renew an AI contract with the Department of Defense following employee protests.
Amazon announces $120 Fire TV Cube with support for 4K content and Alexa; also works with IR remotes to control connected soundbars, stereos, and more; available now for pre-order, ships June 21.
Amazon launches the $200 Echo Look in general availability in the US; has been available through an invite-only program since April 2016; the Look shares the features of the standard Echo, but includes a camera and a fashion feature called style check.
Amazon is developing a range of robots that could be used for home security; the company is working on several designs that feature cameras and an array of sensors for detecting smoke and carbon monoxide; Amazon is also considering whether to offer home insurance as a complementary product.
Amazon secures UK streaming rights for English Premier League matches for three seasons starting next year; terms unknown; Prime users will have access to 10 matches over a holiday weekend, and 10 mid-week games.
Tencent is developing a WeChat-based travel ID system for the Chinese government; the program will link citizen ID cards with visa-like permits for travel between mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau; promises to let travelers simply display their WeChat profile to gain entry at border points.
Microsoft ($778B market cap) to acquire GitHub for $7.5B; Microsoft promises that GitHub will continue to operate as an independent company and that it will remain open; Microsoft will extend GitHub’s enterprise services and integrate them with Microsoft sales and partner channels; GitHub will continue to support any cloud and any device.
Microsoft announces Visual Studio 2019; the launch date will be revealed in coming months; last month the company showcased IntelliCode and Live Share, which will launch with Visual Studio 2019; Intellicode uses AI to offer coding suggestions; Live Share provides real-time collaboration.
Microsoft launches a prototype undersea datacenter off the coast of Scotland; aims to test the feasibility of subsea datacenters powered by offshore renewable energy; the capsule is fully operational and designed to run for five years without any maintenance.
Twitter disbands live video unit, will consolidate functions under the content-partnerships team; the company is shifting from a category-based structure to regional management; the regions are US, Latin America and Canada, Europe/Middle East/Africa, Japan and Korea, Asia-Pacific.
Israel-based ride-hailing firm Gett raises $80M on a $1.4B valuation led by Volkswagen; Gett operates in 120 cities including NYC, Moscow, and London.
Dara Khosrowshahi announces a plan to expand bike-sharing service Jump to Berlin by the end of summer; Uber acquired Jump in April; Khosrowshahi also says Uber’s fully electric service Uber Green will launch in the city by the end of 2018.
Ride-hailing firm Grab partners with Cargo to launch an in-car snack service in Singapore; riders select items via Grab’s app, and the driver hands over items when the car is at a stop; purchases are included in the final fare.
The Japanese government aims to launch a self-driving car service in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics; officials say they will begin public testing within a year with plans to fully commercialize the program by 2022.
Tesla ($297B market cap) shares climb more than 9% after Elon Musk announces the company is producing 500 Model 3 units per day and should reach its 5k-per-week target by the end of the month; production has seen multiple delays and bottlenecks.
Apple unveils macOS Mojave; includes Dark Mode, which themes all elements of the OS; new Desktop Stacks feature automatically sorts desktop items into stacks; supports scrub previews; Finder adds Gallery view with large previews; sidebar now displays full metadata; Quick Actions enable photo and other edits within Finder; users can create custom and batch actions; Quick View adds markup, enabling signature insert & more.
Apple reveals iOS 12; will support the same devices as iOS 11, going back to models from 2013; older devices will see performance improvements; the iPhone 6 Plus camera will open up to 70% faster. Adds Shortcuts for Siri; provides rapid access to regularly used actions as well as third-party app integrations; e.g. a user could set up a shortcut for the command “I lost my keys,” and Siri can use Tile to locate them; iOS 12 includes a dedicated app for creating Shortcuts via drag-and-drop interface; users can create simple commands for more elaborate actions: a single shortcut can include sequenced actions by multiple apps.
iOS 12 includes multiple features designed to help users limit screen time and distractions; Do Not Disturb now blocks notifications during scheduled sleep time; when activating Do Not Disturb via Control Center, a user is presented with options for when to deactivate the setting; Siri now suggests turning off notifications for rarely used apps; iOS 12 supports grouped notifications, organized my app, topics, threads, more; new Screentime feature provides weekly activity reports.
New News app features a Browse tab and a new sidebar for iPad; Apple has also redesigned the Stocks app, which now features relevant, curated stories from Apple News; Stocks comes to iPad with iOS 12; Voice Memos is completely rebuilt, also coming to iPad; CarPlay now supports third-party navigation apps.
Apple announces watchOS 5; adds weekly Competition Awards for users’ Activity goals; adds yoga and hiking workout modes; now features automatic workout detection; also adds Walkie-Talkie app for push-to-talk functionality; works over cellular or Wi-Fi; Siri Watch face adds Shortcuts, sports updates, more; Siri can be triggered by lifting wrist, no “Hey Siri” required; watchOS 5 also adds Podcast app.
Updated tvOS with support for Dolby Atmos; adds live news and sports channels; Charter Spectrum will come to Apple TV later this year, supporting live and on-demand programs; tvOS now supports zero sign-on for subscription supported apps
Apple announces Group FaceTime; the updated app supports up to 32 call participants; FaceTime is now integrated with Messages, enabling users to transfer group chats to group calls; group call interface automatically focuses on and enlarges the video of whoever is talking; supports real-time effects and Memoji.
Apple reveals a redesigned Mac App Store; features new sidebar with tabs for Discover, Create, Work, Play, and Develop; app pages include video previews; more prominently displays ratings and reviews
ARKit 2.0 enables two iPhone users to share an AR space, view objects from different angles simultaneously; supports games that integrate with physical projects; Lego will launch interactive products later this year
Apple SVP of Software Engineering says the company has spent 2 years developing the frameworks to bring iPhone and iPad apps to macOS; dismissed the idea of a touchscreen Mac; some controls will automatically change; e.g. a long-press on iOS will become a two-finger tap on macOS.
Apple to update ResearchKit with a new API for monitoring two Parkinson’s symptoms: tremors and dyskinesia; users can view recorded data, such as the regularity of symptoms throughout the day; Apple will make the Movement Disorder API available to developers with the launch of the second developer preview of watchOS 5.
Apple Maps launches web embed API in beta; Apple already uses the feature for its own sites; for example, the Find My iPhone feature at icloud.com; embedded maps can feature specific locations and allow site visitors to search.
📚 Stuff to think about
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg had a number of privacy disputes with WhatsApp co-founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum; Facebook wanted to introduce targeted ads in WhatsApp, something Acton and Koum opposed; both have since left Facebook, leaving behind a total of $1.3B in unvested stock.
Success is a marathon, not a sprint. My Booking.com colleague Maria Scerbikova shares an inspiring story about how, in front of adverse signals, iterating and challenging hypothesis can bring success.
The not-obvious priorities. John Cutler talks about the underlying value of non-feature work (e.g. refactoring, tooling, and infrastructure projects). How are you capturing the value and prioritizing work in those areas?