elproducto #48 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Instagram’s new messaging App, Amazon on Apple TV, Google Search updates, Messenger for kids, Netflix personalization, Quantifying UX & more.

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

📰 Seen on the news

Instagram launched an experimental standalone messaging app called Direct. The app opens to the camera and allows users to send photos, videos, and text messages to their Instagram contacts; installing the app removes access to Instagram’s Inbox feature; launching in Chile, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Uruguay, it’s unclear if or when it will rollout wider.

Lyft to require each of its more then 2k corporate employees to spend 4h every 3 months experiencing what it’s like to be a driver; e.g. taking driver-support calls, working in a driver hub, or actually driving passengers.

Amazon Prime Video launches on Apple TV; available for third generation devices and later.

Amazon opens up its Alexa skill notifications to more developers; promotional or advertising purposes not allowed; personalized ones, such as Domino’s notifications that provide updates on pizza orders, are encouraged.

Amazon launches in Australia; the company is now taking orders on millions of products in 23 categories; in addition to its own retail offerings, the company’s third-party marketplace is now live in the country. Also launches Prime in Singapore, representing the first market in Southeast Asia to offer the service.

Apple launches Search Ads Basic, an app store ad program in which developers and studios pay for installations, rather than taps on search result pages; the company’s original pay-per-tap Search Ads product has been rebranded as Search Ads Advanced.

Apple releases its iOS 11.2 update; supports faster 7.5W Qi wireless charging for iPhone 8 and iPhone X models, fixes autocorrect issues, more.

Apple Pay Cash begins rolling out for iOS 11.2 users in the US; the feature lets users send and receive money via iMessage.

Apple acquires audio search company Pop Up Archive; uses speech recognition to enable searches of audio content in podcasts and other spoken word media.

Facebook opens its new London HQ and says it plans to add 800 staff over the next year; the extra jobs will increase its UK workforce to 2.3k, making London its largest engineering hub outside of the US; Facebook says it also plans to offer office space to local startups.

Facebook launches Messenger Kids for users aged six to 12; the iOS app is linked to a parent or guardian’s Facebook account, allowing them to monitor and control a child’s contacts list; the app contains many of the same functions as regular Messenger, including chat, video, live filters, and more; Facebook says it will not advertise within the app, and children’s data will not be used for ads elsewhere. Facebook has a Youth Team of 100 employees developing apps for kids and teens.

Google updates Search with improvements to Featured Snippets, Knowledge Panels, and related searches; select Snippets will include more images, while Panels adds searches for connected topics (e.g. searching for skiing will also bring up details for snowboarding); related searches will be expanded across search results.

Gmail for iOS adds support for third-party email accounts (previously available on Android); works with Outlook, iCloud, Yahoo Mail, and more; the app also now fits the whole of the iPhone X display.

Google launches Files Go for Android (previously in beta); provides wireless transfer, space management, and more; makes use of computer vision to suggest the deletion of duplicate files or low resolution videos.

Google launches Android Oreo (Go Edition), a lightweight version of the OS designed for hardware with less than 1GB of RAM; features a suite of reconfigured apps including Google Maps Go, Gmail Go, YouTube Go, and Google Assistant Go; the Play store will also point users toward resource efficient versions of other apps such as Facebook Lite and Skype Lite.

Google Play will now eject app developers who impose lock screen ads on users.

Google blocked YouTube access from Amazon streaming devices. It made YouTube unavailable on Amazon’s Echo Show, and said it will do the same for Fire TV from Jan. 1. Google complained the online retailer failed to make Amazon Prime Video available on Google gadgets and stopped the sale of home-automation products by Nest — part of Google parent Alphabet.

Google updates Android security policies; apps that access user and device data are required to prompt the user for permission; apps transmitting data not central to app functionality must disclose the nature of data usage; Google Safe Browsing will show warnings when apps or sites collect personal data.

Google is testing a new celebrity video feature in search; stars including Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg have submitted selfie video responses to questions commonly asked by fans; when a user searches “Does Will Ferrell play drums?”, the answer video appears at the top of the results; currently limited to mobile users in the US.

Microsoft launches the Whiteboard app in preview for all Windows 10 devices; collaborative app enables users to create mockups, annotate images, take notes, more.

Lyft and self-driving car company nuTonomy begin autonomous rideshare pilot in Boston; some passengers in the Seaport area will be matched with self-driving vehicles when ordering rides through Lyft.

China-based bike-sharing startup Ofo raises $1B led by Alibaba; the firm offers dockless bikes which users can locate and rent via a smartphone app; raised $2.8B to date.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase suffers downtime and slow performance as Bitcoin’s value fluctuates; the cryptocurrency has bounced between $16k and $19k on Friday 8-Dec, causing increased trading volume.

Blockchain tech companies ACINQ, Blockstream, and Lightning Labs successfully test Lightning Bitcoin transactions, demonstrating the viability of the in-development network that promises to increase Bitcoin transaction capacity.

Foodzilla (iOS) uses machine learning to detect ingredients in a meal; users snap a picture of their food and the app provides estimates for nutrition and calorie content; also lets users track their carb, protein, and fat intake.


📚 Good reads

The human machine behind AI. “Every product that uses AI also uses people”, it’s not always AI that sifts through your sensitive info.

Netflix approach to artwork personalization. Great post by Netflix tech team explaining their work on personalizing artwork for recommendations and across their service.

Measuring and quantifying User Experience. Balancing quantitative insights with qualitative ones should be at the heart of any Product team, but how do you measure and quantify the later? Matej Latin shows us some practical examples that he and his team applied at AutoTrader.

Roadmaps are linear, software projects aren’t. Jeff Gothelf touches on one of the topics covered in his latest book, Sense & Respond: is your roadmap a list of features or a list of questions?

How to systematically reduce the risk and uncertainty of new ideas. Strategyzer proposes a concept based on desirability, viability and feasibility.


🚀 Resources

First Search. First Round released the largest database of high quality startup advice ever made. The team went through 10,000+ articles about every facet of company-building, tagging and organizing the best startup knowledge from experts in their field. The result is the ultimate startup advice search engine you’ll want to revisit.


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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.

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