x5: Snapchat World Lenses, Apple’s Self-Driving Tests & More

X5-Design


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Apple to test self-driving car software

Apple has gotten approval from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test its self-driving car software in public for the first time. The company had initially put its self-driving car on hold while the software platform was being built. However, Apple finally looks ready to take on Google and Tesla in the autonomous vehicle race. It is also currently working with a Waterloo-based company to build an operating system that would power this platform, allowing Apple to open it to existing car makers in the future.

Why This Matters

Apple has generally focused on a small line of products. But like its Silicon Valley competitors, it’s looking to move outside consumer electronics and make a splash in the automotive industry. In fact, Tesla has already proven how strong a technology-focused product can be by surpassing Ford and General Motors in value. In a rapidly growing tech space, diversity is the key to longevity. For companies like Apple and Google, expanding into new industries is the best way to stay relevant and ensure long-term growth.


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Snapchat and Facebook to roll out AR features

Snapchat has rolled out a new feature called World Lenses. It’s similar to the existing filters that we’re all familiar with, which augments various images on users’ faces. Using your rear-facing camera, World Lenses will take it a step further and allow you to transform the world around you using augmented reality technology. Not to be left behind, Facebook has already announced its own efforts to do the same, although, its version is still in its beta testing phase.

Why This Matters

With Facebook copying Snapchat features across all its platforms, the company needs to find new ways to innovate and stay ahead of the competition. And while it tries to differentiate itself once again, Facebook already plans on meeting it on the AR battlefield after its F8 announcements last week. For Snapchat, this is another avenue for additional revenue although they don’t have any plans to launch sponsored third-party Lenses just yet.


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Facebook announces host of new products and features at F8

Facebook wrapped up its F8 developer conference last week and announced major additions and changes to its various offerings. For one, they’re introducing Facebook Spaces, a virtual reality hangout area for Oculus users. Facebook Insights is making things easier for business owners on the data front using machine learning to decipher data. And bots on Messenger turned out to be the major focus on the conference. These Messenger bots represent businesses and like Subway and Spotify. The bots can be added to chats and parse the chat log to answer questions, order and pay for items.

Why This Matters

The company has gone to great lengths to involve mobile developers with this move. It announced opening its AR features to developers so that it can innovate faster. With the competition between Facebook and Snapchat intensifying by the day, it’s a move that allows the former to move a lot quicker. That being said, there’s no guarantee that having an open platform will truly bring innovation. Facebook cannot rely on just third-party developers alone to continue to grow Messenger.


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Google could be planning built-in Chrome ad blocker

There are rumours that Google is planning on creating its own built-in ad blocking extension for Chrome. The ad blocker would come installed and turned on, completely eliminating the need for third-party extensions.

Why This Matters

Chrome currently dominates the browser market—that’s almost half of all Internet users. An extension that allows ad blockers could be a big deal for advertisers, including Google itself. As of now, companies have to pay for the privilege to bypass ad filters. Google’s plan would primarily focus on removing annoying pop-ups and other unwanted advertising, while allowing legitimate advertising to stay. But this much control over advertising could also draw a lot of criticism from users, advertisers and anti-trust agencies.


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Adidas FUTURECRAFT could bring 3D printing to fashion retail

Adidas started its journey toward 3D-printed footwear in 2015 with the start of the FUTURECRAFT project. Every iteration since has improved upon the technology. Working with a Silicon Valley firm, it will be able to manufacture these shoes on a large scale. Adidas plans on releasing up to 100,000 of these partially 3D printed shoes by 2018.

Why This Matters

While the prices for 3D printed products are still relatively high, we can expect to see them come down as the technology continues to improve. On top of that, it could benefit the environment with the use of recycled materials. Last year Adidas released a shoe made partly with recycled ocean waste.

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