Welcome to the digest.
Google release Pixel 2. Google has released a number of new products, including the latest generation of the Pixel phone, two additional home speakers and a high-end pixel book (a laptop and tablet hybrid). The Pixel 2 is designed to showcase the best of Google’s Android Oreo software, and boasts features such as a squeezable body that can be used to summon Google Assistant, an always-on screen that can detect any song being played within earshot, and Google Lens, a smart camera that allows users to search the real world using image recognition. The Pixel 2 camera was also marked by DxOMark, as “the best smartphone camera we’ve ever tested.” Read more.
This is a big move from Google as they look to own the home and voice market, whilst simultaneously playing catch up in the smartphone world. I previously highlighted the strength of Google’s position in voice, with their Assistant ‘light-years ahead of Amazon’s Alexa’ due to their vast swathes of consumer data. This could leverage the Pixel 2 to greater success, as voice adoption becomes more mainstream and NLP becomes smarter.
HMD’s revived Nokia 3310 classic mobile gets 3G. Nokia brand licensee HMD Global is doubling down on the tech nostalgia card it pulled out back in February, by announcing a 3G version of the colourful Nokia 3310, now with support for a handful of apps. So as well as talk, text and the classic Snake game, it now touts the ability for the 3310 3G to use apps like Facebook, Twitter and Skype. https://www.nokia.com/en_int/phones/nokia-3310-3g.
Will porn really thrust VR into the mainstream. Oculus founder and former Facebook employee Palmer Luckey in a recent round table conference stated, ‘If I were a major VR company again, probably what I would do is secretly fund adult VR content, pornography has been an important driver for every recent form of media.’ And Luckey is not alone in believing that the adult industry will be a key driver of innovation in virtual technology. Read more.
Instagram is expanding shoppable photos to thousands of merchants. Shopping on Instagram was first made possible late last year when the platform introduced shoppable photos, but it was limited to only certain brands. Now, e-commerce company Shopify and Instagram are opening up an integration feature to thousands of merchants, which will allow Instagram posts to be tagged with items for sale. Users who are interested in buying items can tap a link to view and buy it from the seller’s online store, without leaving the app. Read more.
Instagram is introducing new creative features. Instagram is introducing a host of new tools to Story mode, including two visual tools that will help you make the most of the medium and share even more creative stories: alignment and colour picker. Most interestingly in my opinion, is the new polls feature which allows users to ask their followers for their opinion with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer. I’ve already seen small brands using this to gauge consumer opinion and can see this developing into a powerful and very native tool for quick-fire consumer insights. Read More
Facebook tries fighting fake news with publisher info button on links. Facebook thinks showing Wikipedia entries about publishers and additional related articles will give users more context about the links they see. So as of yesterday it’s beginning a test of a new ‘I’ button on News Feed links that open up an information panel. Sara Su told TechCrunch, ‘People want better tools to help them understand if an article is from a publisher they trust, and evaluate if the story itself is credible.’ Read more.
Snapchat has launched an augmented reality art platform. Featuring artists such as Jeff Koons amongst others, it will allow art to be pinned to specific locations in AR so users can see it when they hold up their phones in the right spot. Snapchat will solicit sign ups from artists who want their art added to the platform. See more.
Snapchat are well placed to take a slice of the AR pie – with a young, tech-hungry and highly engaged user base. As the space between the physical and virtual increasingly merges, a couple key issues come to mind. To what degree do Snapchat allow brands to enter into physical spaces? Who decides the parameters and regulations of this? A decidedly skeptical, but valid point raised by New York artist Seastian Errazuriz worries about a world “dominated by corporate content designed to subconsciously manipulate and control us.” Damning, but thought-provoking.
Has data killed empathy? Recent research by the Account Planning Group has shown that as the advertising industry gets increasingly dominated by data and tech, empathy – it’s core strength – is being forgotten. Read more.
Elon Musk implements an interesting approach to communication with Tesla. “There are two schools of thought about how information should flow within companies,” he writes. “By far the most common way is chain of command, which means that you always flow communication through your manager. The problem with this approach is that, while it serves to enhance the power of the manager, it fails to serve the company. Read more.
Finally, whilst California is still the home of the tech ‘unicorns,’ European nations aren’t doing too bad either, with the UK boasting the highest cumulative value.
Benji – Junior Strategist at Fetch