Who needs another messaging app?

Google announced 3 new messaging apps last week: Allo, Duo and Spaces:

All of them provide something slightly new, but do we need all these features to live in independent apps? Continue reading “Who needs another messaging app?”

What’s the mission statement of your favorite tech company?

Last Saturday I found out about AlphaGo, Google DeepMind’s computer capable of beating the European champion at the game Go; it uses “deep neural networks that have been trained by supervised learning, from human expert games, and by reinforcement learning from games of self-play“, and it’s still unknown if humans can beat it.

Watching the project’s website I noticed the copyright at the bottom and thought: is DeepMind actually aligned with Google’s business goals? A quick look to their mission statement refreshed my memory:

Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Continue reading “What’s the mission statement of your favorite tech company?”

Apple vs FBI, who’s right?

You might think that this case is an easy one, that Apple wants to protect its customers’ privacy and the government doesn’t, that Apple is right and the FBI is not. Well, it’s not that simple.

First, let me provide a little bit of context:

  1. On December 2, 2015, Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tafsheen Malik shot and killed 14 people and injured 22 others at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.
  2. The FBI recovered an iPhone 5c, issued by Farook’s employer, which “may contain critical communications and data prior to and around the time of the shooting“.
  3. The FBI obtained a warrant to search the iPhone, and the owner of the iPhone gave the FBI its consent.
  4. The iPhone is locked and the FBI asked Apple to help execute the search warrant.

Apple refused on a very long letter written by CEO Tim Cook (full text here). Here’s a little extract:

Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.

After reading that letter, I concluded that Apple was right, but after a discussion with a good friend, I realized that my conclusion was too simplistic.

Continue reading “Apple vs FBI, who’s right?”

The #1 thing I’d change from Windows 10

Have you already upgraded to Windows 10? If so, you probably experienced how easy it was: click, download, install, done. Or perhaps you are one of the few people who, like me, run into one of the 16 hexadecimal error codes that you can reportedly get in the process.

I love Windows 10 and I truly believe it’s one of the best editions of Windows ever released. I upgraded my little 8″ Dell Venue 8 Pro and I’m loving it, so I honestly recommend you to get it as soon as you can. However, the upgrade experience wasn’t simple in my case, and that’s why the #1 thing I’d change from Windows is Windows Update.

Continue reading “The #1 thing I’d change from Windows 10”

How I fixed my News Feed on Facebook

For the last month, I’ve been doing an experiment with my News Feed on Facebook; the goal was to make it a more personal place again, and less of the news-sharing site that it seems to be nowadays.

I’m not saying Facebook is not for sharing news, or interesting websites, or memes… after all, I’ve done that same thing for a long time. The problem is that at some point I got bored of seeing my News Feed filled with these impersonal stories and I ended up visiting Facebook way less than I used to. And when I did, I would incessantly scroll through my News Feed, looking for posts that shared something more personal (an idea, a feeling, a picture), but I found very few of these.

Ideally, Facebook should provide the following option: hide all external content, including content generated by accounts that I’m not following. This wouldn’t necessarily go against the company goal, “to help you connect with the people and things you care about the most“, but admittedly, advertisers and investors wouldn’t be so happy with an option that helps users see less content.

Continue reading “How I fixed my News Feed on Facebook”

Why the Apple Watch will be a success

Apple announced during its last earnings report that it sold 74.5 million iPhone units in 2015’s first fiscal quarter. Let that number settle in.

As CNN Money wrote, that means “34,000 iPhones sold every hour, every day, every week of the past three months. That’s 9 iPhones every second.

But that’s not it, Apple also sold 51 million iPhones only in 2014’s first fiscal quarter, and 47.8 million units the year before, which means that there are over 170 million potential customers for the Apple Watch.

Now, I know that doesn’t mean every iPhone user will get an Apple Watch, especially since smartwatches sales are having a rough start (only 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches were shipped in 2014). There are, however, 2 points that I believe will make a difference in Apple’s case.

Continue reading “Why the Apple Watch will be a success”

About the Sony hack and ‘The Interview’

2014 has been a year filled with privacy issues, hacks and data leaks. Some of the most memorable cases include the Snapchat hacks (which leaked around 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers in January, and about 100k images from users in October), the iCloud photo leaks (releasing about 500 private pictures of celebrities in August) and more recently, the infamous Sony hack (leaking personal data, emails, movie scripts and even copies of unreleased films from Sony Pictures Entertainment).

This last hack is still unfolding, and it’s not only impacting Hollywood’s world: last week, Snapchat’s business plans were disclosed through leaked emails from Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton, who also happens to be on Snapchat’s board.

The saddened memo sent after that by Evan Spiegel left me thinking once more about the power of secrets, especially this sentence:

We keep secrets because we get to do our work free from judgment – until we’re ready to share it. We keep secrets because keeping secrets gives you space to change your mind until you’re really sure that you’re right.

Continue reading “About the Sony hack and ‘The Interview’”

Do you need to be a celebrity for your app to be a success?

Why did Jelly become famous? And Medium? What about Square? What do they all have in common? They are all great products, that’s for sure, but there is something else: as it turns out, behind each of these awesome companies there is one of the co-founders of Twitter.

Are new tech products more successful when tech celebrities are behind them? Is it really possible for the same people to keep having several billion-dollar ideas? Do some of these ideas become famous businesses due in part to previous successes?

All these questions were popping in my head as I was reading the book “Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal” (I loved it by the way, although I’m not sure all that drama is actually true), and I would say that the answer is probably ‘yes’ for all of them.

Continue reading “Do you need to be a celebrity for your app to be a success?”

What I learned from Alan Mulally

Alan Mulally is probably one of the best turnaround CEOs of our time. He saved Ford Motor Company, making it succeed through one of the worst moments for the automotive industry in recent history. Before that, Mulally helped overhaul Boeing and even though he didn’t make it to CEO there, he sure proved that he knew how to get a multinational corporation back on track.

Since a lot of people seem to think that Microsoft is applying the successful formula to renew itself, I decided to read the book “American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company“, which explains how Mulally did it.

Here is what I learned from him.

Continue reading “What I learned from Alan Mulally”

The curious case of the expanding smartphone

It all started like this: mobile phones were big, heavy and difficult to hold. Fortunately, my first mobile phone was a Motorola that looked a lot like this one and it was small enough to fit in my pocket; however I still remember how uncomfortable was to walk with it given its bulky antenna and thick body.

As time passed by, mobile phones got smaller, lighter and more powerful. Any phone today is more powerful than the computer that brought us to the Moon. It felt like the microscopic mobile phone was closer than ever. That was the dream, those were the good times.

Then the world went crazy… and this happened:

Continue reading “The curious case of the expanding smartphone”