Friday Five: Twitter’s ad ban and femtech innovation
Zone’s Ross Basham handpicks and shares the five best stories on digital trends, experiences and technologies…
1. Twitter makes statement with political ad ban
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has announced the platform is to ban all political advertising, saying that the reach of such messages “should be earned, not bought”. The ban comes into force on 22 November, so will affect the general election and the next US presidential election — much to the displeasure of Donald Trump.
It’s being seen as a shot across the bows of Facebook, which recently ruled out such a ban. In reality, political ads on Twitter have just a fraction of the scale and impact of those on Facebook. So Jack Dorsey cannily saw a chance to gain some positive headlines — at the expense of Facebook — at very little cost to his company.
2. Netflix keen to let viewers watch in a hurry
Netflix is getting into trouble with Hollywood bigwigs after it began testing a feature with a small group of Android phone users that allows them to change the playback speed of what they’re watching. I don’t really understand why you would want to do that, but apparently it’s a heavily requested feature from subscribers.
While Netflix says it has no plans to roll out adjustable playback to TVs, the likes of director Judd Apatow see it as an affront to artistic vision. Ultimately, though, Netflix sees giving its subscribers more control over their viewing experience as part of its core philosophy, even if that means riding roughshod over how film-makers want their work to be seen.
3. New Spotify app is music to kids’ ears
I’m amazed it’s taken them so long but Spotify is finally introducing a kid-friendly app. Currently in beta in Ireland, the new app will have curated music and audio stories intended for children — with their parents given full control over what’s available to them — and will be available to those with a family subscription.
Currently you have to be 13 to have a Spotify account, so harassed parents of music-loving eight-year-old girls have to lie about their child’s age in order to give them their own account, which feels wrong (yes, I speak from experience). So this would be a welcome addition to the Spotify offering (although I’ll have to work hard to sell it to my daughter — “What do you mean I can’t listen to ‘Baby Got Back’?”)
4. New femtech app tracks fertility using saliva
Berlin-based femtech start-up Inne has given the first glimpse of its hormone-tracking natural contraception tool intended to be released at the start of next year, backed by €8m in funding. There’s been a big rise in women’s health apps in recent years, including those that promise digital contraception — although not without controversy.
The difference with Inne is that rather than using temperature to track fertility, it has developed a saliva-based test to measure hormones, along with a diagnostic device that allows data to be extracted from the disposable tests and logged in an app. Inne hasn’t shared data on the accuracy of its product yet — but promises to do so soon.
5. Record-breaking 3D-printed building unveiled
The largest 3D-printed building ever has been constructed in Dubai. It’s also the first two-storey building, covering an area of 640 square metres, and went through a year-long series of tests to ensure its safety. It produced 60% less waste than traditional construction and should cut costs by around 60% too.
The Dubai developers are now planning to let customers ‘design, download and print their perfect homes while, elsewhere, 3D printing has been used to build eco-house communities. You can watch the record-breaking 3D-printed building going up here.