Every week I keep tabs on what's trending, new technology and consumer habits that impact the social web. Here's what I'm tracking this week...
SocNet Updates: Facebook opened up beta invites for its Facebook Horizons social VR experience. LinkedIn added a “My Company” tab and increased analytics tools. TikTok’s algorithm is one of its best attributes, and lack of clarity about its export restrictions are impacting sales discussion. Meanwhile, TikTok & Jaden Smith joined forces on CTV3: Cool Tape Vol. 3. Thanks to the success of voice Tweets, Twitter is expanding its accessibility options. Twitter also formally changed the name of “Retweet with Comments to “Quote Tweets,” and is testing showing pinned tweets to add context to trending topics. Walmart+ membership program will launch on September 15. Oculus Quest 2 VR pricing has leaked, and it’s $299-399. Animal Crossing introduced election yard signs. Amazon’s app is getting a big UX makeover. Twitch’s “Watch Parties” are now available to creators worldwide.
Google Assistant Helping with Virtual School: The folks at Google have added a number of features to help with school-at-home. With Family Bell, you can add bell reminders throughout the day that announce when it's time to start an online class, take a break, settle in for reading time, have a snack, or even for bedtime. To get started, simply say “Hey Google, create a Family Bell.” Read about other new features here.
Alexa, Pay for Gas: Beginning this week, consumers with Alexa-enabled vehicles, devices like Echo Auto, or the Alexa app on smartphones can simply say “Alexa, Pay for Gas,” pay, and be on their way when they fuel up at more than 11,000 Exxon and Mobil stations.
Flying Car’s Successful Test: Remember last month when I shared that New Hampshire became the first state to allow flying cars on the road? Now a Japanese company has announced the successful test drive of a flying car. It takes up the space of about two parked cars and has eight motors to ensure "safety in emergency situations." Goal is consumer launch by 2023, but we’ll see.
Patent Watch: Keeping a close eyes on patents helps us know where the trends are headed, even if they never come to fruition. This week Google has one for auto-generated meeting notes. Amazon for AR glasses body ads and home security drones. Apple for Siri access Offline. Facebook for headphones for their widely anticipated AR glasses. Microsoft for second screening VR with your phone as the controller. Read more at Protocol.
The First Pig Brain to Computer Interface: As expected, last week Elon Musk’s Neuralink showed its first demonstration of a brain-computer interface, implanted in pig’s head and showing rudimentary limb-tracking by monitoring activity in the brain. It’s a small step, but gives us an indication how this technology could work with humans. Key quote: “I think that a good benchmark of ‘does it work well on humans’ is ‘does it work well enough for a quadriplegic play Starcraft’…. That’s a good functional target.” So far, the answer is No. But if you’re interested in this topic, read the NYT’s: The Brain Implants That Could Change Humanity.
Deepfakes Hitting Mainstream Memers: In the last year, I've talked a lot about the rapid accessibility and irresponsibility of deepfake technology anticipated to hit around the 2020 U.S. election. It’s here! And in the last month we’re seeing it spreading to YouTubers, Twitter and Tiktok faster than ever before. The #deepfake hashtag on TikTok has nearly 150M views! Key quote from MIT Technology Review: “But at the rate that the technology is advancing, easy-to-make deepfakes that are nearly indistinguishable from reality are likely around the corner.”
Tweet of the Week: @OddlyPleasing is the eye candy meets oddly satisfying content your feeds need right now. Specifically, this LEGO brick creation.