Do Not Read Until Monday – May 22

At MRY, we want our employees and clients to enjoy their weekends off, rather than fretting over work. Turn off and enjoy yourself. Once Monday comes around, you can catch up with this week’s important happenings with our handy news recap.

 

GOOGLE REVEALS 100+ PRODUCT UPDATES

Google held its I/O developer conference this week. Here’s some of the biggest announcements:

  • Lens
    A new technology by Google, Lens looks to overlay the world with detailed information about places and things with the aid of your phone’s camera. It was shown giving review information by pointing the camera at a restaurant front, and even identifying a flower type by the same method.
  • YouTube
    Along with AR, virtual reality’s been in Google’s sights, and now YouTube’s hoping to offer a simulated viewing environment for friends. Users will meet in a virtual room, then be able to watch and discuss videos. This is similar to Facebook’s Spaces, announced at F8.
  • Google Assistant is now on iOS
  • Gmail‘s getting ‘Smart Replies’
  • Google Home: ‘Actions’ and controls coming to phones, 70 smart home partners, reminders, Chromecast controls, calendar adds, third-party hardware… *pant pant*

 

FACEBOOK: NEW UI & NOTIFICATIONS

Instagram, Messenger, Pages, WhatsApp, Oculus, its main app – Facebook owns a ton of well-trafficked platforms and apps. That’s a lot of hopping around for users. And with most of them incorporating a Snapchat clone, that’s even more potential confusion for users. Well, a pair of items this week show how Facebook may be confronting this issue through its main app.

This week, a Mashable writer discovered a significant Facebook UI revamp. The new navigation bar adds two elements – a direct link to your profile and tab that includes pretty much everything Facebook offers outside of News Feed. The latter, which displays links in circles, also keeps your profile and recently accessed Groups at the top of the menu.

Facebook’s also thinking about its wider UI, as a user also caught Messenger and Instagram notifications – along with the ability to quickly jump to those apps – in the Facebook main app.

Keeping users in its owned ecosystem is important to Facebook as it means less temptation from competing apps and platforms on your homescreen. Could it mean Facebook might eventually consolidate its many ‘Stories’ features? One can only hope.

 

THIS WEEK IN SNAPCHAT VS. THE WORLD

After a solid L last week, Snap needed to bounce back to regain confidence in the market. What it got instead was a twinned attack from Instagram. First, its Facebook-owned competitor launched face filters – one of the last features unique to Snapchat. Next, TechCrunch found Instagram is testing Location Stories, which allow for streams based on tagged locations. The mechanics of the latter actually make it ‘smarter’ than Snapchat’s location stories, potentially putting Instagram a step ahead here.

However, Snapchat snapped back with a killer announcement of its own, launching ad types that incorporate its AR capabilities more dramatically. “Sponsored World Lenses” can wrap the world around you in branded content, creating a visually appealing, immersive new product for users and advertisers.

This week: Draw

 

AMAZON’S ALEXA INTRODUCES VOICE NOTIFICATIONS

Perhaps falling in the shadow of the many Google Home announcements, Amazon revealed an interesting Alexa feature. Alexa will now give users notifications and updates via voice notifications, alerting them by flashing a special color on the Echo or Echo Dot.

This move makes Alexa more proactive – and could open up opportunities for brands. The notifications will be based on ‘skills’, similar to the way in which push notifications work for apps for a smartphone. Similarly, we see a brand opportunity here: If brands create or integrate with Alexa skills, or partner with developers, they could be placed front and center in front of Echo users.

 

LYFT CONTINUES ITS ASCENT, WITH DELTA, WAYMO DEALS

Lyft, the ‘woke’ ride-hailing app underdog, continues to shine in 2017. Instead of exploiting competitor Uber’s blunders, it’s just making smart moves to expand its user base and technology. In the latest, it’s inked a deal with Waymo, a self-driving car tech member of the Google family. Automation has been seen as the future for ride-hailing apps, but in the present, Lyft’s looking to increase users the old-fashioned way: Loyalty points. Its deal with Delta allows Lyft rides to rack up SkyMiles, and as an introduction, users can get 3 SkyMiles for each dollar on an airport trip. The partnership adds a certain legitimacy from a longstanding travel brand for users who might otherwise be hesitant to try ridesharing.

 

 

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