Robert Graves in an addendum to his autobiography said that people like to read about food and drink, murders, ghosts and, most of all, battles.
While I can’t claim they all feature in this week’s digital news roundup, it’s nevertheless a corker.
Facebook Instant Articles on the wane?
The New York Times, one of the initial partners, has ceased Instant Articles after finding links back to the Times’ own site monetized better. Kinsey Wilson, EVP of product and technology at the Times, told Digiday that “people were also more likely to subscribe to the Times if they came directly to the site rather than through Facebook.”
Though Wilson said the withdrawal wasn’t irreversible, Facebook is going to have to work hard to improve the feature’s appeal.
SNL Pepsi spoof
If you’re not in the US you may not have seen this week’s spoof of last week’s biggest story.
Samsung’s intelligent assistant for the S8 handset sounds really cool. It will help users search, including a visual search tool, will categorise photographs and help people use apps more easily with voice commands.
The feature was a big part of the press coverage in the lead up to the S8 launch, but it appears it is only currently available in a Korean version.
Bixby will not be available in English until later this spring in the US. Until then, people with the handset will have to make do with Google Assistant, which is bundled into the Android OS.
Google launches Auto Draw
Google’s new app is pretty cool. You can use the auto draw functionality and a carousel will suggest professionally drawn pictures based on your own infantile free-form scratchings. In a very simple example below, I drew a few basic lines which I then transformed into a lovely baguette taking a ride in a car. The app works on mobile or desktop.
Machine learning has never been so fun. It’s such a quick-to-use tool, I can see it being of use for some basic design tasks.
OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?
Burger King released a sneaky and pretty smart ad this week (watch it below). The ad is designed to activate the Google Assistant on viewer’s phones.
A spokesman told Reuters: “Burger King saw an opportunity to do something exciting with the emerging technology of intelligent personal assistant devices.”
Reports suggest that on becoming aware of the ad, Google may have stepped in to prevent it from setting off its devices. Google itself has not commented.
Uber head of comms leaves
Uber execs continue to leave. This time it’s Rachel Whetstone, head of policy and comms, who has amicably resigned. More from NYT.
Trump’s tweets to be preserved
The White House is saving all of Trump’s tweets, even the deleted ones riddled with typos. The National Archives and Records Administration confirmed as such in a letter to senators last week.
Your children and your children’s children will be able to see beauties such as these.
In response to a video in which Snoop points a gun at a Trump-esque clown
Tesla now valued at more than GM and Ford
Tesla topped Ford last week, and this week eclipsed GM, with its market capitalization hitting $50.9bn on Monday. Musk’s company is now within $1bn of Honda, which is the fifth most valuable manufacturer worldwide. More from Bloomberg.
Flipkart buys eBay India
Flipkart, India’s biggest ecommerce company, has raised $1.4bn in its latest investment round, with money from eBay, Microsoft and Tencent. As part of the deal with eBay, Flipkart will buy eBay’s Indian business (and get some cash along with it).
Flipkart and eBay will still operate separately in the country, though. Devin Wenig, president and CEO of eBay says: “The combination of eBay’s position as a leading global ecommerce company and Flipkart’s market stature will allow us to accelerate and maximize the opportunity for both companies in India.”
Instagram updates its DM feature
Photos and videos now appear in regular messages alongside text. The following video shows the revamped messaging in action.
Asda launches on JD.com
Walmart’s UK retailer Asda will launch a store on JD.com, China’s second biggest ecommerce platform after Alibaba. The store will sell food and health products to JD.com’s more than 230m customers. The products will come from the UK.
JD.com to sell from rural franchises
In other JD.com news, the company is partnering with rural convenience stores to provide JD products and branding.
The move echoes that of Alibaba, which recently partnered with a big supermarket group. Both strategies are an attempt to tie up online and offline sales, and get more traction outside of cities.