Lots of exciting glimpses into the future in this week’s tech roundup.
New tools for marketers, new user experiences in banking, hope for augmented reality, and even a special smartphone pocket in your jeans (whoever could’ve imagined it?).
Apple Clips could help marketers with captioned video
Apple this week announced that Clips will be coming soon. The tool creates videos for sharing on other platforms and includes overlays, emojis, music that is automatically adjusted to the video length and facial recognition to identify people in your videos.
But the most useful feature may be the animated captions (voice to text) that are created as you record. This feature synchronises the text to the cadence of your voice and, as Wired suggests, may be ‘a neat solution to an ironic—and increasingly irksome—problem: The more people use video to communicate, the more they need text to tell them just what those videos are saying.’
Wells Fargo lets customers use ATMs with their smartphones
Wells Fargo will allow customers to withdraw cash from ATMs using only their smartphones and no bank card, after a trial earlier this year.
From Monday, the bank will upgrade all 13,000 of its cash machines in the US, with customers then able to use their pin and a code generated from the Wells Fargo mobile app.
Reuters reports that both Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase are developing similar tech.
Airbnb rebrands in China (but does the name translate?)
Airbnb in China has become Aibiying 爱彼迎 , which translates as ‘welcome each other with love’, and will double investment in operations in the country, including tripling its workforce and launching a big marketing campaign.
As far as the new name goes, AdAge reports ’there was a backlash on social media, with critics saying the new name is hard to pronounce and doesn’t make sense. Among the nastier commentary, one said the name sounded like a “copycat porn company.” (The second character of the name sounds similar to slang for a female anatomy part.)’
Though Airbnb has 80,000 listings in China, competitor Tujia has more than 400,000. Airbnb is hoping to close the gap by appealing to the 80% of its Chinese users that are aged under 35.
Samsung launches personal assistant, Bixby
Bixby is different from other assistants in that it is designed to help you perform tasks within apps on the new Galaxy S8, expected to be announced later this month. Samsung says it “will understand the current context and state of the application and will allow users to carry out the current work-in-progress continuously.”
As The Verge puts it, “a less charitable interpretation might be that Bixby exists to solve one of the most difficult challenges in all of tech: make Samsung’s own poorly designed software and interfaces easier to use.”
Bixby will initially be limited to a handful of preinstalled apps, and will be available in English or Korean.
Muji’s sixth pocket
In massive news, The Verge has noticed that Muji sells trousers with an innovative sixth pocket for the smartphone.
Apple bets on augmented reality?
Bloomberg reports that Apple is set to add AR features to the iPhone and, further down the line, launch a pair of smart glasses in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage over other smartphones and create another Apple USP.
Anonymous sources suggest Apple has acquired several small businesses with expertise in this area and has built a team including talented outsiders who have worked on Oculus and HoloLens, as well as digital-effects specialists from Hollywood.
US companies join UK in pulling out of Google spending
The Google advertising row has hit the headlines again this week. AT&T and Verizon have joined many UK brands in freezing ads on YouTube, in the continued wake of The Times’ revelations about brand content appearing alongside extremist videos.
At Advertising Week Europe on Tuesday, Google’s European head Matt Brittin apologised and discussed updates to policies. The day before, Philipp Schindler, Google’s chief business officer, detailed expanded safeguards such as tighter default controls that will exclude a wider range of content including fake channels and offensive material.
For a cogent roundup of the ongoing fiasco, read Lara O’Reilly’s roundup on Business Insider. The major points are this:
- More than 250 brands have suspended their campaigns from YouTube.
- Google is tackling the problem with people, tech and policy updates.
- It may be suggested that opportunist agencies are piling on pressure, with a view to negotiating better rates or to bring the DoubleClick wall down.
- It’s a relatively small problem that has blown up because CEOs can easily understand the issue (unlike complex transparency issues that are ongoing).
- The scandal is taking the heat off agencies embroiled in non-transparent practices (e.g. arbitrage and rebates).
Andrew Ng resigns from Baidu
Andrew Ng, previously founding lead of Google Brain, has resigned from his position at Baidu.
Since he joined in 2014, Baidu’s AI group has grown to 1,300 people supporting search, advertising, maps, take-out delivery, voice search, security, consumer finance and more.
New products have included autonomous cars, a conversational computing platform, face recognition and an AI-powered chatbot for healthcare.
Ng leaves to look for a future project that can take AI to the wider world (outside of tech) and notes in a blog post on Medium that ‘Baidu is now one of the few companies with world-class expertise in every major AI area: speech, NLP, computer vision, machine learning, knowledge graph.’
LinkedIn launches trending stories
Another feed for you to scroll through – see the video below.
Uber’s president quits after seven months
Jeff Jones explained that the “beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber.”
Uber has seen several high profile departures recently, with Travis Kalanick now looking for a COO to help get a hold of things.
Instagram advertisers number 1m
Instagram says it has 1m advertisers (mostly small businesses) on its platform and has announced the forthcoming integration of a booking function in the app. Advertisers have grown in number rapidly since last year, when Instagram cited 200,000 advertisers.
In other news, Instagram is to use its moderation team to begin blurring ‘sensitive’ content reported by other users.