My Product Suggestions
“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
In this post, I’ll offer product suggestions for some of my favorite companies/apps.
What is a product?
Like most people outside of the tech community, I associated the word product most closely with hardware, or traditional items.
A product to me was something you bought at a store, whether it be a piece of clothing, a car, a can of soup, and so on.
It was not until I began to learn more about the tech scene in freshmen year of college, and work in product related roles that I began to understand that products existed in the software form as well.
To some of you this statement may be obvious, but for those of you that are still confused, I’ll clear things up with examples in your daily life.
Think of the phone you use everyday, which is likely an iPhone. You have no doubts about this being a product, given that you can hold it in your hand.
But what about the apps you have on there? Apple Music is an Apple product as much as the iPhone is.
There is an entire massive team dedicated to updating, marketing, and supporting Apple Music, in the same way that Apple has a division just for its iPhones.
The trickier part is when you look at companies that have such a wide range of products, and products that are free to use.
Let’s take Google for our explanation. The search bar you use everyday? That is a product. As a matter of fact, it is Google’s original and most used product.
Gmail? A product. YouTube? A product. Google Maps? A product. Google Chrome? A product.
Hopefully you get it by now, and should start to realize that you use dozens if not hundreds of internet/virtual products a day (many of which you do not pay for).
As a final note, it is important to note that when individual products grow to a massive scale, companies often split up their teams to focus on individual features and treat them as their own products.
For example, in my own company Twitter, you would be correct in saying that Twitter itself is the core product. This hasn’t changed, and will likely never change.
But given how we have hundreds of millions of users using our core product, it makes sense to partition the many features into their own sub-product domain.
Therefore, we have teams at Twitter dedicated to: the timeline/home page product, the DM product, the suggestions product, the search product, the notifications product, the ads product, the video product (further separated into live and non-live), so on and so forth.
Yes, there are people at these tech companies whose sole job is to work on everything related to the DM’s you send, captions you post, or docs you share.
What are your suggestions?
After seeing the world with clearer eyes after my product revelation, I began to realize that I had many suggestions for product improvements or evolutions.
One that came to me recently has to do with the electric scooter phenomenon that has reached D.C. If you’re lucky enough to live in or have visited a town that has these scooters, you know just how fun and practical they are.
For those that have no clue what I’m talking about, they’re exactly what they sound like.
These battery powered scooters are scattered around the city, and can be unlocked by downloading their respective company’s apps, and scanning the barcode to unlock them.
If you tried to hop on one and push the throttle, the scooter’s alarm would go off, which is what prevents them from being stolen.
After unlocking one, you can simply ride them to your destination, where you hop off and park them on any part of the sidewalk, take a picture and end your ride on the app.
The price is usually around the $1 to unlock, and 15 cents per minute range, which makes them fairly cheap and a favorite to use for last mile legs.
There’s a real love or hate relationship in the cities that have the scooters thus far. Most people ride them without the mandated helmets, and drive them somewhat recklessly, going back and forth from crowded sidewalks to busy roads. Part of that is the fact that bike lanes are not available throughout the whole city, and the other part is that the lack of regulation encourages bad behavior.
Either way, let’s get to my product recommendation.
I would like it if Bird Scooters (or Lyft, Skip, Lime) etc., included some sort of customizable wraparound LED display on the front part of the scooter.
In the same way that people like paying to have Fortnite skins to customize their online character, I would be willing to fork out a few bucks to have a custom skin that appeared every time I connected to and rode a scooter.
The scooter skins/displays could either be fully customizable on the app (which would be hard because they’d have to be approved to avoid an obscene imagery), or simply a limited connection designed by an in-house team or contracted out to popular artists.
The options could be limitless, if you consider the possibility of affixing advertisements in these LED displays, or directions for users (if the display wrapped around fully).
Granted, I am aware that having a fully functioning and large LED display would probably be a serious drain on the battery, but without knowing too much about the technical aspect of it, I am still interested and would be willing to pay for such a product.
My other product suggestions revolve around my second most used product (after the standard Apple messages app)—Apple Music.
Most of you are familiar with streaming services, and with Apple Music (don’t talk to me if you use Spotify), so I can spare you any explanation.
For Apple, my product suggestions are straightforward, starting with shared playlists.
I enjoy the social aspect of Apple Music which was introduced over a year ago (although I’d like some tweaks on that too), but I would further appreciate being able to make playlists with a friend or friends, and adding and removing songs together.
In tandem with this, the ability to suggest songs to someone’s public playlist would also be useful. I have several playlists that are followed by a few friends, and they manually text me their suggestions. A feature like this would make music curation a seamlessly social experience.
The final thing I’d like out of Apple Music? This isn’t 100% original, as I have seen a variation of this with Spotify, but I would love a detailed stat-heavy breakdown of my listening history and preferences.
As of now, the only real metric we get access to is how many times we’ve played a song.
I want to see the genres I listen to most broken down by times of day, seasons, days of the week. I want to see which parts of songs I rewind the most and listen to, and which parts of songs I most often skip over.
I want to see the combination of songs that I most often listen to in a row.
I would also like to see a leaderboard or community of sorts, where I can see other people who heavily listen to the same songs, albums, artists and genres I do, and perhaps a forum feature where we could discuss things and share new music.
That is all for now, but I’m sure I will come up with more product suggestions in the future, and will definitely make a new post to share them.
EDIT: November 25, 2018
I just thought of another feature I’d like to see in Apple Music: a listen later playlist.
Sometimes when I’m out I discover a new song or artist, and find them on Apple Music. I want to make sure to explore the rest of their catalog, but I’m hesitant to add any one of their albums.
A simple “listen later” button, that adds an album or song to a dedicated playlist would be useful to make sure I don’t forget to listen to this new discovery further.
It’s similar to the “watch later” feature that YouTube has.
EDIT: November 29, 2018
Alright, two more for Apple Music. I wasn’t lying when I said this is my most used app after messages.
I would like the ability to loop specific parts of songs, and/or mark portions of songs so that I could skip straight to them.
Occasionally, there are particularly compelling verses or instrumental pieces that I would love to listen to on repeat, and I don’t want to manually skip there or be forced to listen to the rest of the song.
The second feature is to be able to save local versions of public playlists.
What I mean by this is let’s say I add my friend Ignacio’s playlist to my library. It’s a great playlist, but I think there are few songs that would fit. I suggest to him that he should add these, but he doesn’t agree.
Well I still want his playlist to be on my phone, so that it can update as he adds new songs. But I’d like to have a local version that I could add my own songs to without making a new playlist and copy and pasting all of it.