Feature Friday: Android Smart Notifications

With the new version of Android comes intelligence around mobile notifications.

If you tend to swipe away notifications from a particular app, Android eventually asks you this:

I told Android to keep showing these project updates to me even though I tend to swipe them. I like to see these but don’t often click on them.

I would say that most of the time, I select “Keep Showing” but some of the time I do choose “Stop Notifications.”

I love the idea of a smart operating system that learns how you want to use it and adapts to that versus forcing you to do the configuration manually and that is where Google is clearly going with Android.

You can really see it in the latest version of the OS.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — September 5, 2018
Uncertainty Wednesday: A New Tack

Video Of The Week: GoTenna Mesh

It’s a long weekend with many of us off the grid.

So what do you do when you are off the grid?

Get a GoTenna to stay connected.

This promotional video explains the power of GoTenna when you and your friends are off the grid.

Disclosure: GoTenna is a USV portfolio company.

The 30% Tax

Apple and Google’s duopoly on mobile operating systems give those two companies incredible power in the market and one of the most obvious places to see that power is the 30% tax they take on transactions that happen in their app stores. For subscriptions the tax is 30% in year one and 15% on the renewal.

Typically transaction fees on payments are 5% or lower with the credit card networks being the obvious comparison at roughly 3%.

But Apple and Google are able to charge 5-10x what a typical payment system charges because of their dominant market position and because the economics of acquiring a customer and renewing that customer in their ecosystem is so strong.

While it is hard to stomach the 30% number, it is the case that many companies have done the work to look at their acquisition and retention numbers in and out of these environments

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Feature Friday: Now Playing

I’ve written about this Android feature before. I am a bit obsessed about it.

When you are in a place where music is playing, the Android operating system notifies you what is “now playing.”

I have two things I would love to know how to do with this information.

1/ Access it via an API so I can favorite it my preferred streaming service (which is SoundCloud but Spotify and Apple Music would be great too).

2/ See the history someplace on the web so I can search it by time, place, artist, song, etc.

This is an example of where taking an app like Shazam or Soundhound and turning it into a feature in the operating system can open up a lot of potential additional functionality.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Nick Grossman — August 15, 2018
A little, and then a little more

The Productivity Booster You Have in Your Pocket, But Probably Don’t Use

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HBR Staff

The world’s 230 million knowledge workers are frazzled. Modern life is an interminable cacophony of emails, notifications, messages, alerts, feeds, data and information. 70% of us look at our phones within 30 minutes of waking up. All this causes stress. With multiple notifications on multiple apps on multiple pages of our devices, where do we start? Who will help us?

Fortunately, almost all of us already have a personal assistant. It’s a piece of software on a device you own: the intelligent assistant (IA). We carry IAs around on our laptops (Microsoft’s Cortana), phones (Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby) and smart speakers (Amazon’s Alexa, Baidu’s Little Fish). You probably have more than one. There are an estimated one billion IA-enabled devices in the world today. With smartphone penetration in the UK and US approaching 70%, it’s easy to believe that there will be as many intelligent assistants as

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Hyper Social Not Anti Social

This seems right to me:
“In post-industrial environments where foods are abundant and readily available, our cravings for fat and sugar sculpted by distant evolutionary pressures can easily go into insatiable overdrive and lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (…) the pro-social needs and rewards [of smartphone use as a means to connect] can similarly be hijacked to produce a manic theatre of hyper-social monitoring,”

AirPod Android Music Volume Issue

I use Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones when I’m on my desktop and laptop but I prefer the Apple AirPods when I am on my phone. They are small, light, and fit well in my ear.

But I’ve had this nagging issue with the volume on my AirPods when I stream music on my phone (SoundCloud, AppleMusic, YouTube, etc).

The volume from all of those apps is super low when you use AirPods on Android.

I wasn’t walking much in LA, mostly driving with my phone bluetooth’d to my car, and this issue didn’t affect me much.

But since I’ve been back in NYC and walking a lot again, it came back with a vengeance.

So I finally figured out how to fix it, by simply googling and finding this Reddit post.

Here is how you fix it:

1/ Go to the settings app on your Android phone, scroll down to

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Having Your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking

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Oliver Hibert/Getty Images

“Put your phone away” has become a commonplace phrase that is just as often dismissed. Despite wanting to be in the moment, we often do everything within our power to the contrary. We take out our phones to take pictures in the middle of festive family meals, and send text messages or update our social media profiles in the middle of a date or while watching a movie. At the same time, we are often interrupted passively by notifications of emails or phone calls. Clearly, interacting with our smartphones affects our experiences. But can our smartphones affect us even when we aren’t interacting with them — when they are simply nearby?

In recent research, we investigated whether merely having one’s own smartphone nearby could influence cognitive abilities. In two lab experiments, nearly 800 people completed tasks designed to measure their cognitive capacity. In one task, participants

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Pixel Buds vs AirPods

When I got my new Pixel 2XL recently, the Google Play Store offered me to add the Pixel Buds to my cart and get them for half price. Normally they are $159 (same price as AirPods).

So I took up Google on the offer and after I set up my Pixel 2XL, I paired my Pixel Buds to my phone and used them as my headphones.

That experiment lasted less than a week and last Wednesday when I was in SF for the day, I stopped by the Apple Store in Union Square and bought a pair of AirPods.

The Pixel Buds are not great and the AirPods are excellent.

Here are five reasons I feel that way:

1/ The AirPods fit in my ear (and from what I heard most ears) without any issue. The Pixel Buds fit weirdly and require the user to use this rope thing to

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a16z Podcast: When Is VR’s iPhone Moment?

There was a lot of hype about VR ad then it seemed to go pretty quiet. So where are we right now? Bigscreen founder Darshan Shankar and a16z general partner Chris Dixon take the pulse on VR, AR, and mixed …

Setting Up A New Phone

I finally got around to buying the Pixel 2, a phone that several of my USV colleagues have said is the best phone they have owned.

It’s too early in my relationship with this phone to comment on whether I like it or not, but I did have the easiest new phone setup experience of my smartphone tenure last night.

First and foremost, Google has made moving from one Android phone to another way better. You simply connect the two phones with a USB-C cable and about ten to fifteen minutes later, you have everything on your new phone. Then the apps start downloading and about 30mins later (depending on how many apps you have), everything you had on your old phone is on your new phone.

The second factor in the “easiest new phone setup experience” is Dashlane on Android. I realize Dashlane doesn’t have the same access to

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a16z Podcast: All about Bike Sharing

There’s a new wave of bike-sharing in town. And this wave looks a little different than previous waves — from docked rows of government-funded bikes to dockless fleets of bicycles where users can find and unlock bikes through GPS from …

What Happened In 2017

As has become my practice, I celebrate the end of a year and the start of a new one here at AVC with back to back posts focusing on what happened and then thinking about what might happen.

Today, we focus on what happened in 2017.

Crypto:

I went back and looked at my predictions for 2017 and I completely whiffed on the breakout year for crypto. I did not even mention it in my post on New Year’s Day 2017.

Maybe I got tired of predicting a breakout year for crypto as I had mentioned it in my 2015 and 2016 predictions, but whatever the cause, I completely missed the biggest story of the year in tech.

If you look at the Carlota Perez technology surge cycle chart, which is a framework I like to use when thinking about new technologies, you will see that a frenzy develops when

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