The company formerly known as Snapchat surprised the world last night by unveiling Spectacles, its first hardware product. The sunglasses, which record videos in 10-second increments, are expected to be available for sale sometime "soon." Snap Inc., as the company is now called, says it will be producing the glasses in small quantities. There are still lots of questions about how Spectacles will work — but thanks to some new information from the company, we can now answer some basic questions.
I wrote about Google Trips, my favorite piece of consumer software from Alphabet since Google Photos.
If you have privacy concerns about Google tracking your every step around the world, Trips is likely not the app for you. But if you’re comfortable with the trade-offs, I suspect you’ll find Trips to be a tremendously useful travel companion. In an era where print travel guides are still selling for $15 a pop, Trips is a good, free place to start. After a rocky year making consumer products for Google and its parent company, Trips feels like a return to form.
I wrote about XOXO, which over the past three years has become my personal Burning Man.
On one hand, organizers Andy Baio and Andy McMillan more than earned their year off. Conceived as a part-time project, running XOXO eventually grew to consume most of their year. That culminated in the opening of the XOXO Outpost, a co-working and event space that remains open year-round. But as the Andys turn their attention to other things, it feels worthwhile to highlight what made XOXO so remarkable during its five-year run. Most of the festival’s best ideas are all right there for the taking — and anyone else who does creative work would do well to consider borrowing them.
On the occasion of Sunrise's death, I wrote about why calendar apps lag so far behind other productivity software.
If you’re a tiny startup with a brilliant idea for how to improve calendars, you face two intractable problems. The first is that the glut of free calendar apps makes it very difficult for you to charge customers more than a few dollars. Unless you can continuously acquire thousands of new customers, that’s not a sustainable business. The second is that it’s going to cost money for you to acquire customers — your best bet is probably to buy installations with ads on Facebook and the App Store. Very few companies have or are willing to spend this kind of money, and venture capitalists aren’t likely to invest in them.
I spoke with CEO Kevin Systrom about why he introduced a core part of Snapchat into Instagram.
Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s co-founder and CEO, credits Snapchat for developing the stories format. But he says it was always bound to surface in other apps. "My thesis is a story is a slideshow format," Systrom said in an interview with The Verge. "Just like when Facebook invented the [News] Feed, and every social product was like, ‘That’s an innovation, how do we adapt that to our network?’ You’re going to see stories pop up in other networks over time, because it’s one of the best ways to show visual information in chronological order."