Hellin’s Law states that about one in 89 natural pregnancies gives twins, one in 89 squared gives triplets, and one in 89 cubed gives quadruplets.
Welcome to all new readers! You may be wondering why this is email number #89—it’s because I used to write it (almost) exclusively for my work colleagues, but now it’s going public. So if you know anyone you think would like to receive this, feel free to pass it on.
Enough of the preamble; on with the news.
Alexa Skill Blueprints, which let people without coding ability write simple Alexa Skills, can now be published to the Skill Store. This hugely lowers the barrier to entry for publishing Skills—for better and for worse.
Apple has reportedly acquired Pullstring, a startup that creates voice skills for brands and also offers a voice CMS. This is presumably to bolster rich audio experiences in Siri.
Actions on Google—the code that powers third-party voice actions in Google Assistant—now supports Traditional Chinese, allowing developers to localise for Assistant users in Taiwan.
Quiz app HQ has released a version for Google Assistant, although there are no prizes involved.
Google’s ARCore library, which powers all AR apps on Android phones, has had a major update with new UI components and face detection (for AR masks).
Google released some details of their new AR wayfinding method coming soon to maps.
6D.ai showed off a demo of real-time scanning, which maps an environment—including textures—for use in AR.
LEGO has teamed up with Snapchat for a virtual popup store, with a one-day physical virtual(!) location in London to promote it. To be clear, I don’t think this is the future of shopping in AR; but it’s a fun experiment.
London’s Royal Academy has a temporary exhibition called Invisible Landscapes which displays VR work from four different practices.
Amazon has bought Eero, a company that make WiFi routers.
Here’s a good explainer of what the Eero deal gives Amazon, and what users stand to gain/lose from it.
Google has scaled back its ambitions for Android Things, changing it from a full smart home platform to focus only on smart speakers and displays.
Google is ramping up its chip design capabilities with a team in India made of former Qualcomm and Intel engineers.
Huawei is on track to overtake Apple in smartphone sales in Europe, growing 55% year-on-year in Q4.
A new website shows off how good Nvidia’s adversarial networks have become at generating images of synthetic human faces.
A new model that auto-generates readable (if not always sensical) text from a few lines of input has been held back by its creator, OpenAI, while it assesses the risk of the technology’s misuse.
Uber (of all people) released a new tool, Ludwig, which promises to make machine learning easier by training models without writing code (it’s not easy, but it is easier).
A UK parliamentary report says that Facebook isn’t doing a good enough job of governing itself and may have to be regulated through legislation.
Instagram is testing a web interface for direct messages—a useful tool for businesses.
Amazon spent £6.3bn on advertising last year, making it one of the world’s biggest advertisers.
Mastercard has announced its ‘audio logo’, an audio identity for use across voice interfaces, podcasts, and more.
Apple is rumoured to be announcing a ‘Netflix for news’ subscription service in March—and could take up to 50% of the subscription price.
A new report says Apple, Samsung, and Garmin have 88% of the US smart watch market (meaning Google’s Wear OS has a 12% share at most).