elproducto #44 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Airbnb strategy teardown, Scamming the scammers, Facebook housing rentals, Apple Pay Cash and VR headset, Uber’s flying cabs, Snapchat’s redesign & more.

Welcome to a new week full of fresh ideas and innovation at elproducto!

📰 Seen on the news

Facebook launches a Customer Chat plugin for company websites (in private beta); enables continuous Messenger chats across multiple devices and alternating between the apps and the site.

Facebook expands Marketplace to include hundreds of thousands of housing rentals; users could previously list their own apartments; Facebook now pulls data from partners, including Apartment List and Zumper; listings support 360-degree photos; searchers can filter by features, price, etc.

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Apple soft-launches Apple Pay Cash; comes with iOS 11.2 public beta; enables peer-to-peer payments in Messages, Contacts, and via Siri; Wallet features a new card for Apple Pay Cash, and $10 must be allocated to the card to function; can use payment methods already associated with Apple Pay.

Apple is developing an iPad with Face ID and no home button for launch as soon as next year; unlikely to feature an OLED display; the face will have smaller bezels, maximizing the area of display — like the iPhone X.

Apple is developing a self-contained AR headset which it aims to ship in 2020; the device will make use of a new operating system dubbed rOS and will run on a proprietary chip; engineers are currently using HTC Vive devices for testing purposes; they are also looking at various interaction methods including touch panels, Siri, and head gestures.

Apple to expand its Anyone Can Code initiative to more than 20 schools outside the US: includes the year-long App Development with Swift curriculum, which teaches students how to code and design apps for the App Store; the program has been adopted by more than 30 US college systems.

Skyscanner acquires London-based social content platform Twizoo; Twizoo provides enterprise tools to let firms discover customer opinions across social media; the content can then be repurposed to target other users; Skyscanner will integrate the technology into its own platform.

Google is testing a new Android app called Files Go; provides file management and wireless transfer, device space management, a utility for clearing caches, more; launches worldwide in December.

Google signs a strategic partnership with Salesforce; the agreement promises broader interoperability between the company’s services; includes Quip Live Apps integration with Google Drive and Calendar, and the ability to embed Sheets within Salesforce CRM.

Google releases Resonance Audio: a spatial audio SDK for sound designers and developers producing games and AR/VR experiences; works across mobile and desktop, supports hundreds of audio sources; new Unity feature enables realistic reverb effects with minimal CPU requirements.

Data accessibility and search company Elastic acquires Swiftype, which provides search products for organizational use and for public-facing sites; Swiftype already uses Elastic for indexing and storing search content.

Uber partners with NASA to develop vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight technology; together they aim to develop an air traffic system for managing low-flying vehicles. Uber aims to begin testing its Elevate VTOL taxi service in Los Angeles by 2020.

UberEats app update adds restaurant ratings; users can rank restaurants on a five-star scale and give thumbs up/thumbs down ratings for individual dishes; users can set favorite restaurants to be displayed at the top of the feed; the app also recommends dishes based on a user’s ratings and history.

Uber begins testing a 24-hour customer hotline and in-app chat support; it’s unclear if the services are intended for all users, but the hotline is being billed as “Premium Support”; unknown if or when it will roll out wider.

Uber may launch a Taskrabbit-like service; the company emailed drivers to gauge their interest and to find out how much they would want to be paid for carrying out tasks; the requests would be sent through the Uber app, with drivers choosing whether to accept.

Uber increased its US sales by 15% between March and September, according to the credit card analytics company Second Measure; 2017 proved to be Uber’s worst-ever year, in part because it started out with 400k users deleting the ride-hailing app during two #deleteUber campaigns; rival Lyft experienced a 33% US gain during the same time period. Competitor Grab says it has completed 1B trips; by comparison, Uber reached 5B rides in June, while Lyft previously reported more than 500M rides.

Twitter is globally rolling out a 280-character limit for tweets; will change for all supported languages except Chinese, Japanese, and Korean — languages Twitter found don’t suffer as greatly from cramming issues.

Twitter launches subscription self-serve ad programPromote Mode in public beta; $99-per-month plan enables small business and personal brands automate campaigns; Promote Mode automatically converts tweets into ads and promotes them — as well as the brand’s profile; advertisers don’t need to create ads or campaigns.

Amazon is discounting products from 3rd-party merchants by up to 9% and paying the difference; the company generally limits discounts to the products it sells directly; items are labeled “Discount provided by Amazon”.

More than 1M Android users downloaded a fake version of WhatsApp before Google removed it from Google Play; the knockoff app developer added an invisible space after the true “WhatsApp Inc.” title to trick users; the spoof app bombarded users with ads for other apps.

TripAdvisor begins showing badges next to hotels where sexual assaults have been reported; the company says an employee committee will decide when a warning should be added to a listing; badges will be kept in place for up to three months, though they could remain longer if issues persist; follows an apology from the firm for removing posts from a user who claimed she was raped by a hotel employee.

Microsoft to introduce an AirDrop-like tool for Windows 10; Near Share offers drag-and-drop file sharing between nearby computers via Bluetooth; the firm is also set to introduce a mute tab option for Edge browser; both features are currently available for testing in the latest Windows Insider build.

Snapchat’s redesign will launch Dec 4; the app will still open to the camera but all friend-based content will be accessed via a left swipe, while swiping right will show partner and crowdsourced stories. Snap just missed its Q3 revenue target, and currently has 178M daily active users, up 3% from Q2.

Snapchat use among top social media influencers is declining, according to marketing platform Mediakix; the company tracked 12 influencers across both Snapchat and Instagram over a six month period; the study found Snapchat use fell by 33%, while Instagram Stories activity grew 14%; Mediakix says influencers are posting an average of 7.6 Stories per day on Instagram and 3.6 per day on Snapchat.

Tesla sends out press invites for Nov 16 unveiling of the company’s electric semi-truck.

Pokemon Go creator Niantic says it’s developing a Harry Potter-themed AR game; full details unclear, but Niantic says players will be able to will learn spells and tackle enemies from in world environments.

A Lord of the Rings series could come to Amazon Studios; purchasing the rights to the popular book series from author J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate could cost between $200M and $250M; Netflix and HBO have reportedly been approached as well.


🚀 Resources

Airbnb strategy teardown. CBInsights brings us an extensive report to help us understand where Airbnb is and where it may be going. Hints: is not all about accommodations, and China is getting a big push.


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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 Owner’s perspective.


📚 Good reads

Effective persuasion with data. Avinash Kaushik shows us 3 examples of weak messages through data. Check how to make data-sharing more meaningful.

A radical and simple approach to Product prioritization. Richard Banfield, author of Product Leadership, shares a simple method to focus on what’s critical and hold on what can wait.

Why startups are going remote in 2017. Product Hunt looks at the factors supporting the growth in remote work.

How Grammarly quietly grew to 6.9m daily users. Grammarly has been around for 9 years, but I only got to know it recently. And I love it. Here’s how they have evolved overtime to reach that remarkable amount of daily users.

Scamming the scammers. NetSafe, an online safety non-profit in New Zealand, built Re:scam, which messes with scammers automatically. Brilliant.


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