Here is what the internet biggies were up to in May

Did you miss out on what happened in digital last month?

There seems to be too much happening with Facebook trying to cover its tracks. Google seems to be on an overdrive with Assistant. And then, there are startups that threaten to create a power imbalance every now and then. Digital is a place where things move at a lightning pace and it can get really overwhelming to keep up with it all.

So here’s a concise look at the month of May. After all, we all need fodder for conversations around water coolers!

1. Did you hear the ‘Mhm-hmm’?

Google IO happened earlier in May and it is always an event we look forward to. It is one of those surreal places where we take a peek into the future that will be driven by AI and machine learning. Where retinas scanned in India can be looked upon and treated by doctors far far away. Where Google AI will now be able to predict the rate of readmission to doctors 24 – 48 hours before the event, which can drastically alter the course of treatment.

Gmail’s new AI composer is going to be fun to see how the auto-suggest works. While not all updates about Google photos were great, we did love the fact that you can click a photo of a document and Photos would automatically convert it into a PDF. The other which allows you to immediately convert a black and white photo into colour saves a ton of time for photobook enthusiasts.

Google is going places with Assistant. We know that because usage in India has tripled since its launch. And having John Legend (voice) speak to you is a real plus.

The Assistant’s ‘Pretty please’ feature shows how much thought is really gone into a gadget we are putting into our homes, near our children. And it has gone to places where our imagination has still not reached. Assistant can help combine sound and visuals to play out a recipe to you while you are cooking. We were all OMG on how Google’s AI assistant sounded all too real and fixed an appoint with a salon.

The ‘Mm-hmm’ is such simple but powerful term that shows how the assistant can and will take over the role of an all-too-real person.

The digital well-being initiative is commendable. There is loads of good stuff in there.

Here’s some food for thought – everything from search to maps is taking customization to a whole new place. How you see, and experience Google is going to be very different from what the person sitting right next to you is experiencing. Which means, the SEO that works today is going to undergo a radical change in the next couple of years. Brace yourself.


2. Is Facebook really doing enough?

Facebook too had its moment with its developer’s conference in May. It has been buzzing with activity after the data beach fiasco. We are yet to see the light at the end of this tunnel. As the month progressed, we saw a series of updates from the social giant. It has re-opened its app review process. It is in plans to develop a ‘Clear History’ feature which will allow users to see and delete data that they’ve shared with apps. Also, in the making is a new tool to detect phishing attacks.

The much-needed Analytics mobile app will hopefully bring the ease of management into mobile for ad users. It is also launching a new search engine to help brands find and connect with influencers.

Facebook is going the Tinder way and launching its dating feature. It is also parallelly launching a ‘youth portal’ will feature first-person accounts from teens around the world. At this point, Facebook needs to tread with a lot of caution in both these spheres as even a hint of controversy can tip the balance for the company.

Group video calling will roll out to Instagram and Whatsapp. It’s own video which will now show additional stats on retention features.

3. Instagram is getting cooler

Instagram is experimenting with Music stickers which look kinda cool right now.


It is also testing native payment options within the app. Going the global way, Instagram too is offering  new insights to its usage stats allowing people to now know how much time they are spending on the social channel. Something in line with this is the ‘All caught up’ update which will allow users to know if they have exhausted their Instagram feed for the day. We would say that Instagram is making progress but the wow factor is not as much as we want it to be.

4. Linkedin enabled users to follow #tags

Did someone just wake up and smell the coffee at Linkedin or is this a weak an adaptation of everyone is doing it, so are we? #Tags have been a tool preferred by users across other social platforms to connect and view the conversation around a particular topic. Being able to do this on Linkedin is a definite plus if it used well with a set of common industry tags.

5. Whatsapp

Thankfully, Whatsapp is progressing in a good direction. Groups will see a series of new features which will allow the admin to set a description of their community and also allow certain members to change the icon or description. The good new feature is that you can now get a group summary from the conversations that happened when you weren’t listening but mentioned you. As far as you not wanting to get ‘Good Morning’ messages in groups, you’ll still have to rely on your good ol’ admin to set the rules.

6. Youtube

YouTube Red, the company’s subscription video service is now YouTube Premium. In other updates, YouTube music is being tested out to bring a better and more personalized experience to the product. With so many music only apps in the market, would this really help, we wonder

7. Twitter

Twitter rolled out its new Timeline ads which are only available to a select group of publishers. It will allow business owners for ads shown in embedded timelines. But seeing all the other platforms, it seems like nothing much is going on in there.. or is it? You tell us.

8. Best platform for teens

If you are targeting teens, Snapchat is the way to go. And follow that up with Instagram. Though Facebook exists in the horizon, the first two are the best options if you need teen eyeballs. Incidentally, Snapchat laid off 100 people from its ads division. The company is yet to figure out how to make a seamless fit of ads and content.

9. Microsoft and AI


OK, so this doesn’t exactly qualify under digital but Microsoft too had Build in May where it showed off a lot of the company’s ideas about drones and AI and IoT. They also showed how Alexa and Cortana can talk to each other!

Have you tried asking Siri about Cortana?

It’s a fun experiment we highly recommend. After all, AI can be nasty too! It also gets interesting with Microsoft Remote Assist when you can have an assistant in with the exact technical expertise when you need one. As they mentioned rightly during the beginning, we aren’t looking for what computers can do, but what it should do.

10. AI and Marketing

Since there is a lot of buzz about AI, we are bound to wonder how we use it if we aren’t a data giant. Content behemoths around the world are coming to terms with the treasure trove of assets they have and adding a layer of AI to start making sense of it. Imagine holiday company being able to track their exact user – age, family status, travel requirement, activity preference and the likes and then present a customized holiday experience to them. Or a student education management system being able to map each student’s real understanding of a subject, present a full overview to the teacher and allow customized lessons being shared (which by the way is already happening!). All we can say that it’s just the beginning of our future and there is nothing but our imagination limiting it.

Contemplating the future: Have you had a time when you are driving and taken the wrong turn? The real fun will be to have a ‘map auntie’ give a good chiding in your mother tongue. Wouldn’t that be something!

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