This week is all about new trends and releases. Venture capitalist Mary Meeker releases her famous Internet Trends Report for 2018, where she shows that voice assistants might be getting smarter at recognising speech than humans.

Furthermore, we analyse the rumours that Apple are manufacturing a new microprocessing chip for this year’s iPhone releases. Finally, we look at news that Snapchat are planning to release their app’s features for third-party use.

Enjoy!

Hi Mum! Said Dad


Slide from Mary Meeker’s 2018 Internet Trends Report highlighting the growth in the number of Amazon Echo Devices and Alexa Skills. (Image: KPCB)

Legendary venture capitalist Mary Meeker releases her Internet Trends 2018 report: Voice is a big winner

Every year Mary Meeker, the venture capitalist from Kleiner Perkins, releases her much anticipated report of internet trends — essentially a state of the union for all things tech. In this year’s presentation, voice technology was outlined as one of the big winners.

Until recently, the big issue with the voice channel has been its accuracy — Google and Amazon’s AI software were not able to interpret spoken words with the same accuracy as humans. However, according to Meeker’s presentation, in the past year Google’s massive Machine Learning efforts have brought the accuracy of their speech recognition AI up to 95%. Why is 95% significant? Well, it is the threshold for human-level accuracy — this is what Google and Amazon have been shooting for.

And the trend is unlikely to stop there. As voice platforms gain more users (devices supporting Google Assistant have more than tripled in the last four months), the algorithms powering these assistants will receive more data to train on, making them even more accurate.

Meeker’s presentation also shines a light on the penetration that Amazon’s voice channel has had in recent years. The number of Amazon Echo devices installed in US homes is doubling every 6 months, and currently lies above 30 million devices. The number of Amazon Echo Skills being released is seeing an upward trend — currently there are 30,000 Skills that Alexa can perform.

It is worth noting that in April 2009, there were 30,000 apps present on the iOS App Store. Since then, that number has increased to over 2.2 million. If the iOS App Store is anything to go by, businesses planning to launch an Alexa Skill better do it sooner rather than later if they want to gain an early advantage.

By Oliver Iyer, Strategist


Apple’s latest chip, the A12, is set to cause drastically greater improvements than last year’s A11 chip did (Image: TechCrunch)

Apple’s new processor chip is set to ramp up the performance of this year’s iPhones

The processing power of the iPhone is provided by Apple’s internally manufactured CPUs (the so-called “A” series chips). The latest processor Apple released, the A11 10-nanometer chip, was built into the iPhone 8 and iPhone X and resulted in a 25% performance increase compared to previous editions.

With the release of the 2018 iPhones, Apple are looking to step things up another level by releasing their new A12 processor, which is rumoured to be a considerably more powerful 7-nanometer chip. With a smaller chip, the number of GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) cores could increase from three to six, which would vastly improve gaming and app performance.

Last year’s A11 chip was able to power the neural network behind Face ID as well as Animojis. This could mean that the improved A12 chip could potentially unleash other AI-powered features in upcoming iPhone releases. According to Macworld, the A12 could also push the battery life of new iPhone’s into multiple days, and improve the low-light autofocus and noise reduction of the camera.

Apple tend to receive a lot of stick for releasing incremental iPhone upgrades and whilst the iPhone X certainly can’t be labelled as one, Apple may just be determined to ensure critics have little ammunition come this fall. Watch this space.

By Jeevan Jayaprakash, Strategist


(Image: TechCrunch)

Snap Inc. is rumoured to be releasing a developer platform — Snapkit

Rumours seem to suggest that Snap Inc., the company behind Snapchat, will be releasing Snapkit — an SDK (software development kit) allowing third party developers to bring some of Snapchat’s functionality into their own apps.

Apps with the Snapkit SDK would enable users to login via their Snapchat account, which is similar to how the current Facebook SDK allows users to login to apps using their Facebook account. With this feature, Snap are probably looking towards their young user base — 77% of 18–24s use Snapchat, and many of them may have become increasingly reluctant about logging in with Facebook due to obvious concerns about privacy.

Snapkit would also allow developers to bring Snapchat’s camera functionality into their own apps. Instead of having to reinvent the wheel, third-party apps would be able to leverage Snapchat’s filters, editing tools and Augmented Reality features (such as in-app AR shopping). Users would also be able to share photos taken in a third-party app directly to Snapchat.

Snapchat’s growth rate has been stalling in Q1 — the launch of Snapkit might be an attempt to boost growth by sharing its features with the wider mobile app ecosystem. Third-party apps looking for easier ways for their users to sign in, or ways to expand the functionality of their camera, could be potential winners.

By Jeevan Jayaprakash, Strategist


Google shines a light on when and how different types of apps are used

We end the week looking at an interesting infographic that Google just released, which studies how UK smartphone users are interacting with gaming, sports, news and entertainment apps.

Some key takeaways are:

  • 39% of gaming app users play while they’re watching TV — meaning gaming apps better be good at capturing the attention of their users, as their are competing with TV shows and ads
  • 38% of news app users are most likely to use them at lunch, and 38% are most likely to do use them while traveling — highlighting the importance of delivering stories in bite-size chunks for users in hurry
  • 25% of sports app users are women — which means that catering for an all-male audience is likely to neglect a key demographic
  • Users come back to their favorite games, sports, entertainment and news apps 2 to 3x a day — apps need to ensure that they provide users with fresh content throughout the day

By Oliver Iyer, Strategist


Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s weekly newsletter, H! Lites.

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