Google, questions and answers

“In a curious way, Google is all about answers. So you could say that Google is increasing answers over time, but what’s interesting is that answers are becoming cheap; they’re almost free, and I think what becomes scarce in this kind of place that we’re headed to is questions, a really good question, because a really good question can unleash new questions.

In a certain sense what becomes really valuable in a world running under Google’s reign, are great questions, and that means that for a long time humans will be better at than machines.

Machines are for answers; humans are for questions.

The world that Google is constructing—a world of cheap and free answers—having answers is not going to be very significant or important. Having a really great question will be where all the value is.”

— Kevin Kelly

Email is still the best thing around

‘Killing’ email is the new cool. Every day there’s a new startup declaring that they’re replacing email, or that ‘email is dead’. Asana and Slack have been the most vocal about it lately.

But what is there really to hate with email? It’s a big, decentralised, open platform on which lots of services have been built. It’s a great product weighed down by the use cases its flexibility allows.

Email isn’t dying, it’s being unbundled.

Email used to be your newsfeed – now we have RSS and social media; it used to be your passport / identity – now we have FB connect; it used to be your social communication – now we have WhatsApp, FB messenger and Twitter; it used to be the primary method of work communication – now we have Slack, Trello, Asana and co; and it used to be your versioned controlled clod storage system, now we have Dropbox…

The more we offload onto these new services, the more we reduce the use cases for email, and the better it will perform as a product. At some point, it’s going to stop being a pain point and start being great again.

The slow drift of Apple and Google?

After a couple years of threatened and attempted thermo-nuclear war, it really does look like Apple and Google are making their peace and drifting in different direction.

Perhaps they realised this was not a situation of ‘neither can live while the other survives’, and that instead these were two distinct companies, with equally remarkable, but very different, skill sets – and that the natural conclusion of this was divergence over time.

As Benedict Evans keeps arguing, Apple’s moving down the tech stack (A7 processor, TouchID, iBeacons and Bluetooth LE meshes..) and Google is moving up it (Google Play services, cloud-based AI & machine learning services…). It’s not out of spite but out of natural advantage. Apple’s thing is integrating hardware and software – it allows them to do all sorts of things Google can’t; Google’s thing is data and cloud – the same principle applies.

This year’s WWDC is only a confirmation of these trends – opening TouchID to public API but sandboxing it the whole way down; HomeKit and HealthKit; writing Metal and Swift… all things only Apple can do well.

 

Finally a thought from Benedict:

 

One effect of this is that it might get harder to make essentially the same app on both platforms. If a core, valuable thing you can do on one platform has no analogue at all on the other, what do you do? Ignore the stuff that isn’t on both, and get a lowest common denominator product? Or dive into those tools, but end up having quite different experiences on iOS and Android? Things like Metal and Swift only accelerate this issue.

http://ben-evans.com/benedictevans/2014/6/4/digesting-wwdc-cloudy

Content Beats platform

The Beats purchase confirms that Apple is no longer king of digital music.

Ironically, it’s Apple that helped dethrone itself – the iPhone’s multi-touch screen and app architecture broke the iPod’s monopoly on great user experience in digital music devices. Now anyone can make a great music player, in code, sitting on Apple’s hardware and OS. 

For once it looks like the content beat the platform.  

 

“iBeacon is not…

“iBeacon is not a hardware play. It’s actually a way to distribute software to create the first API layer for the physical world. And here’s the magical part: it’s completely free of charge from a power perspective. Beacons use effectively zero power themselves, and soon will last forever. But even more importantly, scanning for beacons at the OS level also uses zero power. Think about that for a second: with iBeacon, Apple made a way for your phone to constantly ‘see’ signs (i.e. scan for BLE signals), all the time even when on standby, without using any power at all. This is truly a remarkable breakthrough for location technologies. Beacon IDs are all individually unique (as unique as IP addresses). So in actuality, beacons can be thought of as place URLs for the real world.”

http://stevecheney.com/on-the-new-edge-network-and-the-future-of-local-commerce/#fn2-997