Fine artists have borrowed, Great artists steal feature ideas from the app du jour.
And that may be the common mantra of consumer tech companies, some of which have a well-documented practice of copying. This week, it was Spotify’s turn. While not literally in Silicon Valley, in geographical terms, Spotify is certainly a tech giant. It’s the world’s largest music streaming service, has spent more than $1 billion building its podcast business (it’s now undergoing a strategy shift), and says it’s approaching $40 billion in payments to artists.
It’s also known to have a ridiculously cluttered app, and on Wednesday the company unveiled a new design that claims to make discovery easier. “Spotify now has different feeds for songs, podcasts and audiobooks,” says WIRED’s Amanda Hoover. It’s half Tik Tok Infinite Scroll and half Instagram Stories. Yes, it’s the TikTok-ification of Spotify.
Your inbox doesn’t have to look like mine (full of new techniques) to know the validity of TikTok applications is very real. Google has released more visual, endless search results. YouTube has shorts. Meta has been tweaking its algorithms to push Reels to Instagram users, and now allows Reels to be uploaded to both IG and Facebook. Pinterest has a watch tab for short videos. Big tech companies aren’t the only ones doing this. Gen Z’s video dating app Snack, described as a mix of Tinder and TikTok.
The bubble for TikTok-like feeds is now only with apps that use ChatGPT… who knows. Does anyone know exactly what the long term plan is for these chatbots? Microsoft, Salesforce, Snap—all “integrate” ChatGPT. In the past year, app makers have been coming up with new strategies for the Metaverse, Web3, crypto and NFTs, and prominent venture capitalists have thrown their weight behind them. This year’s buzz phrase is “generative AI,” a technology so powerful that calling it a “chatbot” is dangerously reductive. One of the world’s biggest social experiments—how we interact with technology and how it affects our bodies—is starting to look like a game of Mad Libs, where tech executives rush to fill in the gaps and hope the end result fails. It doesn’t seem completely pointless.
Silicon Valley’s collective FOMO is not a new phenomenon. Remember when Apple launched its music social network? When Google tries to ride the wave? When Reddit releases a clubhouse competitor? When Twitter enters newspapers? Whether it’s good old-fashioned motivation or full-on FOMO, the ultimate goal is to keep users engaged with their apps and apps alone. or to further develop transformative technology. Usually both. Sometimes, you can’t blame them for trying.
Other times, though, Silicon Valley FOMO has more ramifications than a fix-it-home meal or a quirky chatbot. Just ask any of the thousands of tech workers who’ve recently been laid off because their CEO’s pet pivot-to-X project was deemed necessary. The new FOMO is about “focus”: who better to optimize, grow, optimize than the next tech company. Cut enough departments, lose enough middle managers, surrender to artificial intelligence, and the clamor from Wall Street can drown out the uncomfortable realization that the same apps strategy is now being applied to human capital.
Getting your airport Uber will be easy.
If you need to get your step count back after a long flight, there was always… Uber. Driving from the airport means walking through a maze of terminals, stairs and parking garages just to find your Uber driver. (Whilst this is frustrating for a tired traveler carrying luggage, it’s a nightmare for someone with mobility issues.)
Uber says it’s solving this problem by introducing walk-time estimates for airports and step-by-step navigation complete with photos to guide people to airport pickups. The first release will include guides at 30 airports around the world, including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Delhi, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Paris, Rome and more. Sao Paulo. Uber has timed the release of the feature for spring break because the Transportation Safety Administration expects spring break travel season to return to pre-pandemic levels, and because we know the most important thing for spring breakers to think about is navigating from Terminal 2 to Garage 3 carefully and inconveniently for their Uber drivers.
Apple Music is serving Tar.
I listen to a fair amount of classical music when I work; Not because I’m any kind of expert on the genre, but because my brain doesn’t process words very well (typing) when I’m processing other words (poetry). Most of my listening happens on Spotify—but Apple’s new app might win me over. On March 28, the company will launch a companion app for Apple Music dedicated to classical music. It’s called Apple Music Classical, and it’s included in the $10-a-month subscription fee for an existing Apple Music service, or as part of one of Apple’s more expensive cloud packages.
Classical music, ahem, may not seem so Key Part of Apple Music, considering that classical is a small fraction of the total music stream. But Apple signaled its interest in referencing the orchestra a few years ago when it acquired a classical music service called Premphonic, Arstechnica wrote. Pryphonic has created a search function that allows users to search for alternate names of composers or performances by specific artists. It also created a fee structure where payments were based on how long a piece was played – with tracks being 20 minutes long – and the number of times a track was played was an important consideration.