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Friday Five: 4/11 – 4/15

Kyle Rall


Happy Friday! Here’s a roundup of this week’s industry news:

Facebook Just Validated the Bot Movement for Businesses - VentureBeat

Facebook has decided that its messenger service is key to a new type of commerce called “conversational commerce.” The social networking giant is introducing bots to the platform, and is pushing businesses to use Messenger to communicate directly with customers. Brands are rethinking messaging apps as platforms to build on, instead of for customers only. The future of the bot experience may be bots first, then actual humans when queries get more complex, but the shift is beginning.

Google Calendar’s Newest Feature Uses Machine Learning to Help You Actually Accomplish Your Goals - TechCrunch

Google announced the addition of a “goals” feature for Google Calendar users. The new feature lets Google figure out when its users have free time to accomplish those things that don’t have definitive parameters. Goals can be selected from different categories, and Google then places calendar events in your free time. The events are reactive, and will change if other meetings or events are scheduled, but give it enough time, and Google’s machine learning technology will make sure you get to the gym or read that book.

Molotov is Defining the Future of TV

Netflix has a new challenger - French startup Molotov has been working for two years on what has been described as “What Apple TV should have been.” The service blends new, old and live content from a plethora of networks into an experience available across multiple devices. The company has signed all of the major French networks, many smaller channels, and offers more content than Netflix. Thanks to French media law, the company can also offer new movies before Netflix, whose media catalog has been shrinking dramatically in France already. The service isn’t available in the US yet, but is a potential challenger to Netflix.

Kindle Oasis From Amazon Promises ‘Months and Months’ of Battery Life - The New York Times

Amazon released a new version of its Kindle on Wednesday, and it isn’t cheap - the $289 cost places it at the top of Amazon’s e-readers. The device is more expensive than other Kindle models because Amazon is including a case with a battery, and supposedly can go months without a charge. Despite challenges from tablets with more functionality, the company is optimistic about the market for devices dedicated to reading.

Lyft is Gaining on Uber as it Spends Big for Growth - Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Since last year, Lyft has been going all out in its quest to become market leader in the ride-sharing market. The company has hired promoters to hand out shirts and free ride vouchers in major cities, bought ad space and billboards in major traffic areas, and is trying to spend its way past Uber. The company has agreed to cap its losses at $50 million per month, while Uber is trying to fulfill its promise to shareholders to be profitable by the first quarter of 2016. Because of Uber’s focus on becoming profitable, Lyft has been able to grow market share in most major US cities, but still lags behind Uber. Despite both companies burning cash at record rates, the real winners are consumers, who can take advantage of both companies lower prices in the ongoing war for the ride-sharing market.

Did you come across any interesting tech this week? Tweet us @WalkerSands