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Big Revolution - Facebook's four-app strategy

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Welcome to Wednesday's Big Revolution, coming to you from a swelteringly hot Manchester - so hot that
 
June 27 · Issue #122 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Wednesday’s Big Revolution, coming to you from a swelteringly hot Manchester - so hot that I can smell the moorland burning 10 miles away. They might even have to call in the army to help extinguish the blaze.
Let’s dive in…
Martin

Big things you need to know today
- Facebook has scrapped its plan to build drones the size of Boeing 747s. The UK-based ‘Aquila’ project would have provided internet connections to large areas with poor existing connectivity. Facebook will continue to work on the underlying tech.
- Twitter continues its belated fight against spam and abuse. It’s now launched new measures, like making it harder to open spam accounts, and reducing the impact these accounts can have on others.
- Instagram now has a four-way video chat feature on iOS and Android. More on this below.
- Goodbye, Google AdWords. The company’s best-known advertising product is now simply called Google Ads.
- Age is a virtue. A new study from the US Census Bureau and MIT concludes that older tech entrepreneurs in their 40s and 50s are more successful than their younger counterparts. Tell that to the VCs who spend their time looking for early-twenties Stanford dropouts.
- The next version of MacOS is now available to try in beta. The launch comes hot on the heels of the iOS 12 public beta. MacOS Mojave will launch officially later this year.
- Uber has been allowed to operate in London for another 15 months. The company has taken a more conciliatory tone to disputes like this in recent months. It’s fair to say that its old Kalanick era approach wouldn’t have amused Transport for London. TfL only gave it 15 months so they can make sure Uber really has changed for the better.
- A.I. has successfully figured out the entire periodic table on its own.
The big thought
Instagram video calling
Four colours, four Facebooks
Do you prefer your Facebook experience in dark blue, light blue, green, or a kind of purple-and-orange fusion?
I was a little baffled by the introduction of four-way video calling to Instagram when it was first announced. Why would you need another video calling app, and why would it be Instagram? But then it clicked. Facebook’s four main apps are gradually becoming different flavours of the same core offering.
Facebook’s main (dark blue) app is the one for middle-aged and older folks. Messenger (the light blue app) is for people who have convinced themselves they don’t need Facebook, but still want to keep in touch with their friends through it. It’s presented as a messaging app, but with ads, the ability to interact with businesses, commerce, stories, and games, it’s just another way of presenting the Facebook experience.
Then we have Instagram (the purple-orange app). What was once a simple photo- and video-sharing app is now ‘Facebook for kids too cool to use Facebook.’ It’s got stories, messaging, ads, ways to interact with businesses… 
Even the green app, WhatsApp (the messaging app for people who really don’t like Facebook but who don’t mind using an app owned by it), has stories, messaging, ads, ways to interact with businesses…
Sure, all four have unique aspects – Instagram has IGTV, Whatsapp has end-to-end encryption etc, but they’re all the same basic app in different clothing. And now three of the four have video calling built in.
It’s a smart strategy by Facebook – stick to the same core offering, but present it in different ways to serve different audiences. If you’re like me, it might also make you question why you’re using all four apps.
One big read
You don't need an Apple Mac laptop—everything you need is in a Google Chromebook You don't need an Apple Mac laptop—everything you need is in a Google Chromebook
This article won’t apply to everyone – especially if you do specialist work like coding or video editing – but for many people, defaulting to a Mac may not be the best option these days. 
That’s especially true on recent devices that are capable of running Android apps - you can finally break out of the browser without diving into the complexity of a Linux terminal.
That’s all for today...
See you tomorrow! If you enjoyed this edition, please share it with a friend.
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