By Shane Carroll, Monisha Kishin, and Rodrigo Bonilla


Spotify tests letting users skip ads for free

Amid competition from Pandora and Apple Music, Spotify is trying to differentiate its offering. The platform has begun allowing Australian users to skip ads, even on its free service. By offering users unlimited skips, any time an ad is playing, Spotify aims develop an algorithm that more intelligently serves ads to relevant users. The move will likely mean less revenue in the short-term, but may well benefit their long-term product.

 

Google launches Cameos, a video Q&A app catered to public figures and celebrities

As an extension to the company’s Posts on Google platform, Google’s new Cameos app is focused specifically on video posts and is aimed at celebrities and public figures. The app allows individuals to answer questions from fans in their own voice, and share those answers directly to Google, as opposed to allowing other websites to answer for them. In an attempt to differentiate the app from Instagram’s recent Q&A feature, Cameos taps into what Google does best - Search, with answers only appearing when the question is searched on Google. Cameos currently operates on an “invite-only” basis, with access request available upon download.

Facebook launches AR games on Messenger video chat

Facebook Messenger’s video chat is arguably one of the social platform’s most popular features, with over 17 billion video calls in 2017 alone - and now, users have even more reason to use it. Launched last week, AR games are now on Messenger video, allowing up to 6 friends to play at a time. Though Snapchat was the first to implement AR-based games between friends, Facebook’s AR games are different in that users can compete and view each others’ game play in real time. For now, only two games are available - “Don’t Smile” and “Asteroids Attack” - but stay tuned as Facebook releases more in the near future.