By adaptive - May 22nd, 2017

Google’s latest offering puts AI and machine learning in the palm of your hand. Andrew Tolve reports.

In the news


Google announced plans to integrate artificial intelligence into every facet of its business starting with your mobile phone. Thanks to a new technology called Google Lens, your phone will be able to identify whatever you aim your camera at, from a rare flower to a dive bar in a dingy neighborhood; in the case of the latter it will produce the business listing along with customer ratings so that you know what to expect when you get inside. If you point your camera at a concert poster, Google Lens will produce the dates and times of the show and then give a nod to Google Assistant, who will automatically drop the info into your calendar. And Google Lens is just the beginning. At Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, the company unveiled a host of other products and features that harness AI and machine learning. Google Home will now be able to initiate conversations with you, preempting your concerns and needs. The Gmail app on your smartphone meanwhile will offer suggested responses to emails in your inbox based on your historical responses. It will even learn your style of grammar and punctuation.


In the money


Snap released its first earnings report since going public in March, and the results sent the stock plunging 25% in after-hours trading. What was so troublesome? A $2.2 billion loss in Q1 for one. Also there was the tiny matter of revenue coming in lower than expected ($149.6 million as compared to $158 million projected) and Snap user growth slowing dramatically, down from 53% growth in Q1 2016 to 36% growth in Q1 2017.  The numbers have investors worrying that Snap is the next Twitter, not the next Facebook, and that its initial public offering valuation of $24 billion was wildly overpriced.  


In other news


Google's self-driving car company Waymo partnered up with Lyft to jointly pursue a robotic taxi service. Waymo has logged the most miles of any company working on autonomous vehicles but is a neophyte when it comes to the ride-hailing industry. Enter Lyft, which has the most robust user data and ride-hailing technology on the planet next to Uber. The companies confirmed the partnership but didn't divulge any details yet. 


Sticking with transportation, Uber launched a mobile service for the trucking industry. Uber Fleet allows companies that want to move freight to locate nearby truckers and get them to their loading docks in a fraction of the time that it currently takes. No paperwork, faster deliveries for companies and faster payment for freelance truckers, all in an app that mirrors regular Uber — that's the promise of Uber Fleet. 


Microsoft wants in on the home smart assistant market, and it’s partnered up with Harman International to make it happen. The two are working on the Invoke Smart Speaker, which is a dead ringer for the Amazon Echo save for the fact that Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant serves as your digital butler in place of Amazon Alexa. Invoke is due out in the fall of 2017. No word yet on pricing. 


HTC launched its new flagship smartphone, the U11, which packs a similar punch to an iPhone 7 or Samsung Galaxy S8 but at a lower price point. The biggest selling feature is the so-called "squeezable" sides. The formal name is Edge Sense, and it allows users to open apps or summon personal assistants with a simple squeeze of the hand. The phone also learns user behavior over time thanks to an artificial intelligence feature called Sense Companion and offers suggestions to the user based on those learnings. The U11 retails for $649. 


LinkedIn is bringing its popular Today's Job Matches to mobile. The feature allows users to search for jobs based on their skill sets and harnesses machine learning to tailor suggestions to their preferences over time. Job recruiters will also be able to use the feature in their mobile devices to locate top talent. LinkedIn data suggests that north of 50% of its users scour the job market on their mobile devices. 


Twitter has finally stopped the bleeding amongst its C suite: co-founder Biz Stone is coming back after a six-year sojourn with startup Jelly, which Pinterest just acquired for an undisclosed sum. Stone will be in charge of giving Twitter’s company culture a boost. In the past year the social media site has lost its COO and CTO, and a number of its co-founders have dumped stock as Twitter user growth has slowed and the gulf between Twitter and Facebook has grown. It's unlikely Stone can reverse any of these mega trends, but happy, collaborative employees is a good place to start.


Finally, remember when Sprint and T-Mobile went through all the rigmarole of merger talks two years ago, only to see their grand design meet staunch resistance from US regulators? Rumor has it the two companies are back at it, in large part because they believe President Trump won’t present them with the same regulatory obstacles that former President Obama did, eager as Trump is to highlight business deals under his tenure. The merger may make Sprint/T-Mobile a viable contender with Verizon and AT&T. 


The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.


Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Open Mobile Media.



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