elproducto #31 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Facebook video-chat device, Google removing urls from results, Linkedin’s Tinder-like mentoring, Spotify growth, VPN China ban, Speed as habit & more.

👩‍🚀 TL;DR

More details on Facebook new hardware products: they will not only develop a home speaker, but also a video-chat device. Not clear whether they will ditch the speaker and go full on for a smarter device, but devices are already being tested at people’s homes. They are also working on a 360-degree camera that would eventually scan and recognise people and objects in the room, and that may be part of the video-chat device.

If you only have time for one article, check out how and why Gillette is screwing up by not responding fast enough to change. In words of Avinash, the author: “It is easy to analyze digital performance. It is harder to pin down causes. It is always something way more complicated than you might imagine. The brave go there. The brave thrive.”

Happy reading!


📰 Seen on the news

Google offered to acquire Snap for around $30B in early 2016 and again just before the company’s IPO in March of this year.

Facebook is developing video chat hardware; reportedly features a laptop-sized display and a wide-angle smart camera; also reportedly working on a standalone smart speaker.

Facebook testing its Snapchat-like Stories on the desktop; appears at the top of the right sidebar; shows icons of contacts who have posted Stories, which consist of photos and videos that disappear 24h after publishing.

Facebook to use page load speed as a ranking signal for News Feed (mobile only); will roll out gradually over the coming months; News Feed will display more posts linking to fast-loading pages.

Facebook begins suggesting fact-checked articles within its Related Stories feature; also using machine learning to automatically flag potentially false reports, sending them to third party fact checkers for verification.

LinkedIn is rolling out a free mentor-matching service that functions like Tinder; mentors can set preferences, including degrees of separation, location, school, etc; those seeking mentorship indicate topics of discussion; initially available in San Francisco and Australia.

Next iPhone will have a screen that wraps around the speaker and front camera, according to an analysis of HomePod firmware; the code includes an image that’s similar to previous iPhone leaks, and also references face detection software.

and next Apple Watch won’t (finally!) require an iPhone for data; still unclear how it will work, but likely focused on fitness scenarios.

Apple Q3 beats: $45.4B revenue, up 7% YoY ($44.9B expected); sold 41M iPhones, up 1% YoY. Apple reported $8B revenue for China, a 10% drop YoY; by comparison, revenue in the Americas was $20.3B, up 14% YoY.

Apple’s HomePod will run iOS but not support third party apps or extensions; the + and — controls are used for volume, to dismiss alarms, and to control Siri; the top of the HomePod has an LED matrix, capable of displaying basic things like icons and numbers.

Spotify claims +60M paid members, up from 50M in March; claimed 140M total users, paid and unpaid, last month; Apple Music claimed 27M paying members last month; Spotify is expected to go public by year’s end.

Spotify is set to fund a new set of podcasts; comes as Spotify is to begin promoting select podcasts in its app and on display ads.

and it’s coming to Xbox One! (2 years after its debut in PS3 and PS4).

Mozilla launches Firefox Send, an experimental web-based tool for sending large encrypted files (the service recommends up to 1GB); users get a shareable link that expires within 24 hours or after the first download

Google adds information badges to Image Search; indicators show which images include additional information such as recipes, where to buy, etc.

also, users have reported missing URLs from search results. Not clear yet whether it’s a test or being rolled out.

Google updates Earth for iOS with interactive stories feature, Voyager; the update previously rolled out for Android and web; features travel itineraries, virtual tours of Machu Picchu and the Katmai National Park.

Google updates its Gboard virtual keyboard for iOS, adding Maps and YouTube features; with Maps, users can drag-and-drop locations into messages; eliminates the need to type or copy/paste addresses; the YouTube tab simplifies sharing videos.

Google’s latest pre-release version of Chrome for Android includes optional native blocking of intrusive ads; users can enable the feature under an “Ads” section of the “Site settings” menu; the company plans to launch the feature widely next year.

Google makes the Nearby Connections API for Android generally available; enables developers to create apps that communicate with nearby devices when the host device is offline; potential applications include proximity-controlled thermostats, contact syncing, etc.

Gif search and sharing platform Giphy to test sponsored gifs; represents the company’s first attempt at monetization; when a user searches for “morning,” Giphy could return a Starbucks gif; claims 200M daily users.

Microsoft introduces new text-to-speech features for Word; Read Aloud lets users adjust the speed and voice, and also make edits to a document in real time; available now for Office 365 testers.

Amazon prepares launch in Australia; its first warehouse will be situated near Melbourne.

and launches The Hub, parcel delivery lockers for apartment buildings.

Skype adds PayPal support to its iOS and Android apps; lets users send payments within 22 countries, including the US, UK, and Canada.

The BBC is testing an experimental version of its iPlayer media player that uses voice analysis to suggest programming; for example, once a user signs in by voice, the player listens for other voices in the room to determine if it should recommend family-friendly content.

Uber expands Freight, the app that matches truckers with available jobs, to more US states: CA, AZ, GA, NC, SC, and the Chicago-Midwest region; previously only TX. Supported regions represent more than 25% of US drivers and freight; the app now learns a driver’s load and other preferences and sends notifications for matching jobs.

China-based bike-sharing firm Mobike is set to launch in London this September; the firm will make 750 bikes available in the borough of Ealing, adding more as demand increases; users locate a bike via an app and unlock it by scanning a barcode; follows an earlier launch in Manchester.

Apple says it removed some VPN apps from the App Store in China due to new legislation; follows the introduction of rules that require VPNs obtain a government license to operate; Apple says it was required to remove VPNs that didn’t comply. Russia to follow after passing a new law preventing the use of VPNs; ISPs must now block all websites that offer proxy services; a second law has also been passed that requires messaging services to verify users by their phone numbers; firms can also be compelled to block users if they’re deemed to be sending illegal content.

Global smartphone shipments dropped 1.3% YoY in Q2; vendors shipped 341.6M units; the top 5 — Samsung, Apple, Huawei, OPPO, and Xiaomi — all gained market share; Samsung held 23.3%, Apple 12 %, and Huawei 11.3%.


📚 Good reads

VR’s Grand Challenge: on the Future of Human Interaction. Oculus’ chief scientist Michael Abrash speaks on the challenges facing VR, and how they can be overcome; discusses and demonstrate the thesis that all reality is virtual, and highly determined by perspective.

The Guardian profiles data-mining firm Palantir; the company provides deep analytics for agencies including the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA; it’s main location in Palo Alto, CA, has walls impenetrable to radio waves and other signals; Palantir’s internal network is also airgapped from the internet.

UX & Psychology go hand in hand — How Gestalt theory appears in UX design? If you are not familiar with Gestalt, read this. And if you are familiar with it, still read it. A brief intro on basic psychological principles that will help you designing for human brains.

Speed as a habit. Dave Girouard, CEO of personal finance startup Upstart, and former President of Google Enterprise Apps, talks about the importance of speed in decision-making and execution, and how this can (should) be ingrained to company culture in order to stay competitive.

How Gillette is screwing up a decades long success by not evolving its strategy. Avinash Kaushik brings a brilliant post on what and why Gillette is doing wrong. “It is easy to analyze digital performance. It is harder to pin down causes. It is always something way more complicated than you might imagine. The brave go there. The brave thrive.”


🎯Quote of the week

“Finite players play within boundaries; infinite players play with boundaries.” — James P. Carse


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elproducto is a curated selection of Tech&Product happenings within the last few days from a curious and frequently skeptical Product Manager’s perspective.


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