Posted by Jeevan Jayaprakash
In this issue, we look at the launch of a much awaited API from Google, Curve’s plans for the financial services sector and the counterintuitive notion of shareable design.
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This is it for 2016, so from everyone at Hi Mum! Said Dad, we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in 2017!
Hi Mum! Said Dad
New API means developers can now build voice commands for Google’s Assistant
We are increasingly moving to a voice driven world with a lot of Amazon Echos/Dots and Google Homes expected to be unwrapped on Christmas Day.
Naturally, Google have recently released an API that will allow third party developers to build “conversation actions” for Google’s AI ‘Assistant’. Currently, The Google Assistant service is found in the Pixel smartphones, the Google Home speaker and the Allo messaging app. Domino’s Pizza have already developed actions that allow consumers to order pizza and track their order by speaking to or messaging the Assistant and other popular names such as the Wall Street Journal and Quora have also developed their own actions.
One of the great advantages of AI is that it is all in the cloud. Users are not required to download and install these actions as once they are deployed to the cloud, they instantly become accessible to anyone in the world that has access to the Google Assistant. However, as Ben Evans of Andreessen Horowitz rightly pointed out, actions are still dependent on consumers being aware of all the different actions available to them and how they can be triggered. There will be undoubtedly be a lot of jostling between brands as they attempt to get their actions front of mind.
If you are wondering about Alexa, Amazon already has an ‘Alexa Skills Kit’ for developer who are looking to build skills (the Amazon word for conversation actions) for the Echo/Dot.
London fintech startup, Curve, preempts vacuum in the financial services sector
Curve, a London based fintech startup, are priming themselves to take advantage of the continued disruption of the financial services sector in the UK.
To give you a quick summary, Curve is a mobile wallet that allows you to sync an unlimited number of debit/credit cards to a single app. Users are also sent a Curve MasterCard which effectively acts as the card that the user has as ‘active’ on the app. Other benefits include comprehensive expenses management in a single view, loyalty points as well as low foreign exchange rates abroad.
However, it is the introduction of the most recent feature called ‘Labs’ which might have certain financial services providers fretting. With the wave of exciting, young fintech startups that are gaining traction with consumers such as TransferWise (for sending money abroad) and Nutmeg (investment services with low management fees for the everyday consumer), consumers increasingly need a bird’s-eye view of all these services. As Steve O’Hear of TechCrunch put it, the arrival of disruptors leads to fragmentation but eventually there must be some sort of convergence and this is the space where Curve are hoping to play in. The Labs feature is expected to allow consumers to seamlessly link into other third party services such as TransferWise and Nutmeg — arguably creating a product that could become more important than your traditional mobile banking app.
If you are a business owner, Curve are currently offering their entry-level ‘Curve Blue’ card for free to beta testers (you can sign up here). Curve will be opening up to regular consumers shortly.
Introducing shareable design
Designers obsess over making their products intuitive. It’s what they do. The mantra goes something like “the product should be so intuitive that even a drunk person would be able to use it”. It makes sense, right? Why would you ever deliberately set out to design something that doesn’t make sense to a user?
Step forward Snapchat.
Snapchat is the perfect example of something that goes against the grain. Relatively speaking, it can be quite overwhelming for first time users and downright confusing, leaving many a user feeling helpless and old.
There seems to be a method in the madness though. The argument is that Snapchat is a mobile product and mobiles are built for use on the go — obviously. On the go means you are inevitably surrounded by friends, family and colleagues. Snapchat realised that most teenagers (and you could argue most people) learn by watching others do something. We often show others nifty and useful tricks on our phone because it is just human nature — the teacher feels the glow of being seen to be ahead of the curve and the student is learning something that will be of use to them. Snapchat also lends itself to being taught and learnt because well, quite simply, it is fun!
This also inevitably creates a bit of an aura around Snapchat — it almost thinks so highly of itself that the onus is on the user to learn how to use it. This is admittedly a dangerous game to play because you have to be really confident that your proposition is compelling enough to be something that people would 1) use and 2) enjoy teaching and learning.
The concept of shareable design and deliberately making your product a little difficult to use is certainly a bold approach and one that we think we might see more of going forward.
Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s Weekly Digest.
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