Welcome to another round of global roundup.
In a long list of innovative features and upgrades Apple announced this week at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, which included the launch of its new headset, the Vision Pro, the company also announced the iOS 17 update to its Apple devices.
Although the Vision Pro headset, a scintillating innovation made headlines, the upcoming iOS 17 update will introduce many “nice-to-have” features, like personalized call poster, StandBy mode, live voicemail and improved sticker experience.
This week also, Meta introduced WhatsApp Channels, a feature the social media giant said would help make the app a “private broadcast messaging product.”
It seems that layoffs in the tech space globally have become a trend that will not be going anytime soon, even with the AI boom, which has even resulted in its continuity. This week, Reddit announced it was laying off about 5% of its workforce, or 90 employees, joining a list of technology companies that have been cutting jobs across corporate America.
Spotify also announced Monday that it was laying off roughly 200 employees, or about 2% of its-person workforce, as part of an effort to change how the streaming company handles its partnership with “leading podcasters from across the globe.”
Here is a summary of the bulletin
- Apple announces iOS 17 update
- Meta introduces the WhatsApp Channels feature
- Reddit lay off 5% of its workforce
- Spotify lays off roughly 200 employees
- VC firm, Sequoia Capital splits into three entities
Read also: Meta unveils Quest 3, its new VR headset
Apple announces iOS 17 update
Although Apple’s Vision Pro headset dominated the headlines at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) event on Monday, the upcoming iOS 17 update which will come later this year will introduce many “nice-to-have” features, like personalized call poster, StandBy mode, live voicemail and improved sticker experience.
Apple iPhones are set to undergo a transformation with the introduction of iOS 17, aiming to enhance personalization and intuitiveness. The update brings forth enriched communication, streamlined sharing, and intelligent input, empowering users with more expressive interactions.
Some features of iOS 17 include introducing personalized contact posters showcasing photos and memoji, the inclusion of live voicemails offering real-time transcription of audio messages and ensuring instant access to spoken content. Facetime enthusiasts can now leave videomails like voicemails when the recipient is unavailable, while the messaging app incorporates search filters and transcriptions for voice messages.
But also, among the other benefits that come with the new feature which Apple didn’t mention onstage due to lack of time, is that Apple is building on its computer vision prowess by introducing recipe search with iOS 17. Users will be able to tap on a food item in an image and search for similar recipes.
Also, The company is also extending its image cutout feature, which let users lift objects from pictures and videos. With the new update, users can “Look up” these objects to find more information about them. You can read more here.
Meta introduces WhatsApp Channels feature
Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp on Thursday introduced WhatsApp Channels, a feature that the social media giant said would help make the app a “private broadcast messaging product.”
The announcement was made by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg via his Instagram channel. Channels are described as separate from personal chats and will be displayed in a new Updates tab.
He described the Channels as a private feature that allows people to follow people and organisations that matter to them. Zuckerberg said the feature is rolling out first in Singapore and Colombia and will roll out to everyone later this year.
Excerpt from the post:
“Everyone, today we’re announcing WhatsApp channels, which are going to let you privately follow people and organisations that you want to get updates from. WhatsApp channels are separate from your personal chats and they’ll show up on a new Updates tab where over time you’re going to be able to find all of the channels that you want to follow.“
Users in Colombia and Singapore will be the first to receive access to Channels. Over the coming months, Meta will expand the availability of the tool for users in more countries, it said.
Reddit lays off 5% of its workforce
Social media company, Reddit is laying off roughly 90 employees and slowing hiring as it restructures key parts of its business. The company said this week it was laying off about 5% of its workforce, or 90 employees, joining a list of technology companies that have been cutting jobs across corporate America.
Reddit, which was spun off from magazine conglomerate Conde Nast in 2011, saw a recent surge in appeal due to the popularity of WallStreetBets and other forums on its platform that have become a venue for retail investors to speculate on stocks.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Reddit’s move on Tuesday, citing an email sent to employees from Chief Executive Steve Huffman.
Huffman said the company would also reduce its hiring for the rest of the year to about 100 people from an early plan of 300, according to the WSJ report.
Spotify lays off roughly 200 employees
Streaming company Spotify announced Monday it was laying off 200 people, or about 2% of its workforce, as part of a “pivot” in its podcasting unit, CNBC reports. It says it was part of an effort to change how the streaming company handles its partnership with “leading podcasters from across the globe.”
Spotify’s global workforce was 8,359 people in 2020, according to an SEC filing, with 4,332 of those employees in the United States.
The cuts were announced by Sahar Elhabashi, vice president at Spotify, in a memo to employees. Those impacted will be provided with “generous severance packages,” Elhabashi said.
Elhabashi said the “fundamental pivot from a more uniform proposition will allow us to support the creator community better.”
Spotify has spent heavily to expand its podcast unit in the last three years. Since 2020, Spotify spent 493 million euros ($526 million), on four different acquisitions in the podcast space, according to an SEC filing.
Sequoia Capital splits into three entities
The world’s most storied global venture capital firm is breaking itself up. The VC plans to split into three entities — Sequoia Capital in the U.S. and Europe, Peak XV Partners in India and Southeast Asia, and HongShan in China — as the storied venture firm separates the Asia units from the mothership as it navigates an increasingly complex geopolitical landscape.
Sequoia, known for early investments in U.S. tech companies such as Airbnb, WhatsApp and Zoom in the U.S., as well as international heavyweights like ByteDance and GoTo via its China and India funds, is splitting into three fully distinct firms.
Sequoia’s global leadership confirmed the news in a letter to limited partners on Tuesday morning signed by the leaders of the three firms, Roelof Botha, Neil Shen and Shailendra Singh. In separate interviews with Forbes, the three investment heads said the decision to split up Sequoia’s global brand was a gradual discussion that intensified over the last several months.
They cited conflict between the funds’ respective startup portfolios, brand confusion as they diverged in strategies and increasing complexity of maintaining centralized regulatory compliance as factors — while acknowledging, but attempting to downplay — a frostier geopolitical environment.
“Things seemed to be going in a direction where it gets harder, not easier,” Botha said. “This isn’t a retreat saying, ‘white flag, we failed.’ It’s more of a victory in the sense that we have these fully independent businesses that can go even further.”
Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!