October 19, 2018
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Atlassian launches the new Jira Software Cloud

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Atlassian previewed the next generation of its hosted Jira Software project tracking tool earlier this year. Today, it’s available to all Jira users. To build the new Jira, Atlassian redesigned both the back-end stack and rethought the user experience from the ground up. That’s not an easy change, given how important Jira has become for virtually every company that develops software — and given that it is Atlassian’s flagship product. And with this launch, Atlassian is now focusing on its hosted version of Jira (which is hosted on AWS) and prioritizing that over the self-hosted server version.

So the new version of Jira that’s launching to all users today doesn’t just have a new, cleaner look, but more importantly, new functionality that allows for a more flexible workflow that’s less dependent on admins and gives more autonomy to teams (assuming the admins don’t turn those features off).

Because changes to such a popular tool are always going to upset at least some users, it’s worth noting at the outset that the old classic view isn’t going away. “It’s important to note that the next-gen experience will not replace our classic experience, which millions of users are happily using,” Jake Brereton, head of marketing for Jira Software Cloud, told me. “The next-gen experience and the associated project type will be available in addition to the classic projects that users have always had access to. We have no plans to remove or sunset any of the classic functionality in Jira Cloud.”

The core tenet of the redesign is that software development in 2018 is very different from the way developers worked in 2002, when Jira first launched. Interestingly enough, the acquisition of Trello also helped guide the overall design of the new Jira.

“One of the key things that guided our strategy is really bringing the simplicity of Trello and the power of Jira together,” Sean Regan, Atlassian’s head of growth for Software Teams, told me. “One of the reasons for that is that modern software development teams aren’t just developers down the hall taking requirements. In the best companies, they’re embedded with the business, where you have analysts, marketing, designers, product developers, product managers — all working together as a squad or a triad. So JIRA, it has to be simple enough for those teams to function but it has to be powerful enough to run a complex software development process.”

Unsurprisingly, the influence of Trello is most apparent in the Jira boards, where you can now drag and drop cards, add new columns with a few clicks and easily filter cards based on your current needs (without having to learn Jira’s powerful but arcane query language). Gone are the days where you had to dig into the configuration to make even the simplest of changes to a board.

As Regan noted, when Jira was first built, it was built with a single team in mind. Today, there’s a mix of teams from different departments that use it. So while a singular permissions model for all of Jira worked for one team, it doesn’t make sense anymore when the whole company uses the product. In the new Jira then, the permissions model is project-based. “So if we wanted to start a team right now and build a product, we could design our board, customize our own issues, build our own workflows — and we could do it without having to find the IT guy down the hall,” he noted.

One feature the team seems to be especially proud of is roadmaps. That’s a new feature in Jira that makes it easier for teams to see the big picture. Like with boards, it’s easy enough to change the roadmap by just dragging the different larger chunks of work (or “epics,” in Agile parlance) to a new date.

“It’s a really simple roadmap,” Brereton explained. “It’s that way by design. But the problem we’re really trying to solve here is, is to bring in any stakeholder in the business and give them one view where they can come in at any time and know that what they’re looking at is up to date. Because it’s tied to your real work, you know that what we’re looking at is up to date, which seems like a small thing, but it’s a huge thing in terms of changing the way these teams work for the positive.

The Atlassian team also redesigned what’s maybe the most-viewed page of the service: the Jira issue. Now, issues can have attachments of any file type, for example, making it easier to work with screenshots or files from designers.

Jira now also features a number of new APIs for integrations with Bitbucket and GitHub (which launched earlier this month), as well as InVision, Slack, Gmail and Facebook for Work.

With this update, Atlassian is also increasing the user limit to 5,000 seats, and Jira now features compliance with three different ISO certifications and SOC 2 Type II.

News Source = techcrunch.com

You can now use the Google Assistant to order an Uber or Lyft

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If you ever wanted to use your Google Assistant to book you a ride with Uber or Lyft, your wishes have been heard. Starting today, you’ll be able to use your voice to ask Google’s virtual assistant to book you a car from Uber, Lyft, Ola, Grab, GO-JEK and similar services.

The new feature works with Google Assistant-enabled speakers and on phones. You can either request a car from a specific company or place a more generic request (“Hey Google, book a car to PDX”) and the assistant will return current pricing for all the supported ridesharing services in your area.

To actually book the ride, the Assistant will then hand you off to the ridesharing company’s mobile app, though.

Still, it’s a useful feature if you want to quickly compare prices or are frantically running around the house, trying to pack your suitcase for your next trip, and want to get a car quickly.

Lilian Rincon, Google’s director for the Assistant, told me that having a similar feature in Google Maps already made it easier to implement this in the Assistant, too.

“We think of the Google Assistant as highlighting the best of Google,” she said. “There is a ridesharing feature in Google Maps and we’ve been working very closely with that team to highlight this.”

It’s worth noting that Google announced a redesign of the visual side of the Google Assistant yesterday. This new feature isn’t directly linked to that as far as I can tell, but it does show some of that same focus on bringing more visual elements to the Assistant experience by showing you a list of prices and a map.

The new feature is now rolling out globally, but only in English. It’ll expand to other languages over time.

News Source = techcrunch.com

First DJI, now Bang & Olufsen gets Line Friends-themed products

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Line is a pretty busy company. Beyond a messaging app that claims over 160 million users, the company operates service like music streaming, manga, food delivery, games and it is also venturing into crypto.

The company has long been known for its playful characters — Line Friends — which are a core part of its sticker sets, but now the zany cartoons are making their way to real-life products. Line has its own Echo-style smart speaker, and off the back of its Brown Bear-themed DJI drone, it is announcing a Line Friends Bang & Olufsen speaker.

Like the DJI Spark drone, the Bang & Olufsen speaker takes a well-known and popular product and appends Line’s cartoon characters in the name of sales through cuteness.

The speaker — ‘Beoplay B2 Brown Limited Edition’ — will go on sale from October 4 in Korea, U.S, Japan, China, Taiwan and Hong Kong via Line’s online store and its offline retail outlets. Pricing, it seems, is TBC.

The product may seem frivolous but it plays into a major strategy from Line, which has seen user growth of its core messaging app stagnate over the past 18 months. Line’s Friends characters have long helped it make sales — its sticker packs make over $250 million per year — so it makes sense to monetize them beyond digital sales and into physical products, which includes tie-ins with major consumer brands.

That’s a big part of Line’s success. While growth has topped out, Line is adept at finding new ways to make money from the users it already has. Revenue in its recent Q2 2018 was up 20 percent year-on-year despite monthly active user count falling by five million to reach 164 million in the quarter.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Google launches new travel-planning tools

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Slowly but surely, Google is expanding its portfolio of travel offerings that now range from hotel- and flight-booking services to trip planning tools. Today, it’s launching yet another set of new travel features that focus on travel planning and hotel bookings.

Maybe the most interesting new tool, especially if you are planning to travel over the holidays, is a new landing page that shows you when to best book your flights ahead of Thanksgiving, the December holidays and New Year’s based on 2017’s price changes. The tool is a bit limited in the number of city pairs it supports, but if you plan to fly on one of the 25 supported routes, then it could definitely save you a few dollars (assuming this year’s price trends are comparable to last year’s).

The same page will also show you hotel deals, though that’s more of a lead-generation tool for Google Maps’ hotel search feature, which many people probably don’t yet know about.

Once you have decided on a destination, Google’s new hotel location score can then help you find the neighborhood that’s best for you. The score summarizes information like nearby bars, landmarks and access to public transportation based on data from Google Maps. It’ll also tell you how to get to and from the airport, which is a smart addition.

Come October, Google will also launch Your Trips, a new feature that’ll help you organize your travel plans. Your Trips is not a new feature, but when this update goes live, it’ll collect all of your flight price tracking, hotel research and everything else you may have saved about a potential trip in one place. It’s a bit like Inbox’s (RIP) trip bundles, but for trips that you are still planning.

And finally, if you perform a regular search for a popular travel destination in Google Search, the result page will automatically highlight these trip-planning features, including day plans and articles about the destination. Once you start booking a trip, these results will also include information about your bookings and additional information based on this data.

News Source = techcrunch.com

FabFitFun expands its video reach with a new experiment in live programming

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The Los Angeles-based women’s subscription box and media business FabFitFun is expanding its video catalog with the launch of new live programming set to coincide with the launch of its latest seasonal box.

FabFitFun is creating a new slate of live programming which will air every day on its Facebook page from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pacific and is set to feature interactive product showcases, beauty demonstrations, DIY projects, and a game show.

It’s an expansion of video efforts that the company began last year with the launch of a new app for AppleTV and Amazon Fire.

FabFitFun also has been streaming live shows on its Facebook page; experimenting with subjects like sale previews, product showcases, and “Founder Chats” between its co-founder and editor-in-chief Katie Rosen Kitchens and various entrepreneurs. In early 2017, the company debuted its streaming FabFitFunTV, which includes shows focused on health and fitness, cooking, dating & relationships, and do it yourself projects.

The new slate of live programming will run from Sept. 24 to Oct. 5 and will include sneak peaks of the company’s Fall Edit Sale; industry experts for in-studio demos on fashion, beauty, fitness and hair; an expansion of the company’s produced FabFitFun TV content; and a game show called “the Fab Challenge”, where viewers can compete to win prizes.

With the push into live television, FabFitFun moves one step closer toward the vision of creating a millennial version of morning programming like the Today show or something like the Home Shopping Network . Daytime appointment television isn’t what it used to be, but the format does appeal to brands both historic and new.

“Initially we’re doing it in conjunction with the sales we have,” says Michael Broukhim, co-chief executive of FabFitFun. “The plan is to build on that. Make it more than just seasonal. Our goal is what is cheddar for women with commerce and community deeply integrated into it… As we learn about which formats are successful we’ll double down on those.”

News Source = techcrunch.com

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