The Department of Product


Thursday, 08 June, 2023

Apple's Vision and a new way to predict the future. Plus: Airtable gets percentages, Slack’s revenue struggles and a new feature analytics tool

Hi product people 👋,

Building features that people want is the reason that product teams exist. This week, a new release from analytics startup June is hoping to make measuring feature usage simpler. Features is a feature-oriented view of your analytics that’s designed to validate, iterate and celebrate new feature launches. It’s a remarkably simple way to orient reporting from a product perspective but it says a lot that this approach to data feels like a differentiator vs other bloated SaaS reporting tools. 

In an ideal world of course, you’d be able to predict whether a feature will work before you build it. A new product we discovered this week promises to help with that. Foresee keeps track of every prediction about the future you make. It claims the more you reflect on previous predictions, the better your intuition and judgment about the future will be.

Speaking of the future, Apple unveiled its own take on augmented reality this week. It’s pitching Vision Pro as a premium device that respects – rather than replaces – the world around you. Features like passthrough and Eyesight make it clear that the metaverse isn’t a world Apple wants us to live in. Instead, much of Apple’s presentation focused on the productivity gains of having on-demand 4k screens at your disposal that complement your existing work set up. The product designers who have spent 7+ years working on this have clearly worked extremely hard to uphold its human-centric design principles. 

Despite this, there are still important UX questions that remain unanswered: What if you’re wearing makeup? What if you have longer hair? Will motion sickness be a problem? Ahead of the launch, a former Magic Leap exec said that in their testing, VR headsets automatically excluded 50% of those who tried it because of the problems associated with these use cases. His new company pivoted to light weight AR glasses as a result.

A more existential question is: do people want to strap computers to their face? If the performance of early entrants so far is anything to go by, the answer to that is a resounding no. But if anyone can brute force a market into existence, it’s Apple. And for product teams, this could mark the first step towards a future of building dedicated spatial computing products. 

Enjoy the rest of your week!

The Department of Product Briefing

Essential reads for product teams

How to create an API product strategy

Square’s Lead PM, Abhishek Bhardwaj, shares everything you need to know about developing an API product strategy in 2023:

(Department of Product and Sendbird)

Tools you can use

  • Documenso – an open sourced alternative to Docusign

  • Readme – transform API docs into developer hubs

  • Columns – turn Notion data into beautiful visualizations

Design principles – Apple Vision Pro’s design principles

To coincide with the launch of Apple Vision Pro at WWDC, Apple has shared a rich library of resources for developers and designers who want to build apps in its new proprietary operating system, visionOS.  In this beautiful series, Apple designers share guidance on how to build immersive apps in spatial computing. Its core design principles for visionOS are: familiar, human-centered, dimensional, immersive, authentic.

Tweets to read

Bloomberg’s Michael McDonough on the number of AI mentions on earnings calls

Interview – Intercom co-founder Des Traynor on the future of customer success

Customer support is perhaps the most “target-rich” environment to apply generative models like GPT-4 – these technologies excel at talking, reasoning, and providing answers. Such conversational abilities have traditionally been the province of human agents. As their jobs change, the software they use must evolve, too. ( 


Technical explainers – Are you afraid of the Command Line tool?

With a few keystrokes, you can accomplish a task that might take multiple mouse clicks and menu selections in a GUI. And it’s not just that – much of the work engineers do in the terminal isn’t even possible in a GUI. ( 



New product features, launches and announcements this week

Airtable has launched a new feature which allows users to display percentages as progress bars. Helpful for tracking OKRs or other progress-oriented metrics.

Microsoft Teams is getting a new Discord-like communities feature. The new, free feature is currently only available on mobile devices but Microsoft’s VP of product Amit Fulya, says the company is planning to expand support into Windows, MacOS and the web.

BeReal has launched a new feature to help users connect with their friends using RealMoji reactions or RealChat. Earlier this year, the company defended its daily active user numbers and hit back at suggestions that it was struggling with 20m DAUs.

Despite the onslaught of negative feedback experienced by Snap, Instagram is rumored to be building its own AI chatbot . Users will be able to choose from 30 different personalities and ask the chatbots questions to ‘inspire creativity’.

📊Product insights and trends to stay informed

English is still the predominant language of the web, now used by 55% of the websites of the world. But the figure is down from 63% in 2022.


Twitter’s ad revenues dropped 59% during the five weeks between April 1 and the first week of May, with revenues of $88 million.

It’s getting harder to go viral on TikTok. Recent algorithm changes have seen the number of videos reaching over 10 million views decline 50% year on year to 4,600 in April 2023.

Slack accounts for just 5% of parent company’s Salesforce sales. New CEO wants to adopt some of Salesforce’s product culture to increase revenues.

Japan’s number one transportation app isn’t Uber – it’s a taxi app called Go. Go commands 70% of the mobility market in Japan with over 100,000 cabs from local taxi companies.

Tuesday is the highest office occupancy day of the week across 10 major US cities (bank holidays excluded). The lowest is Friday, which is stuck at 28% occupancy rates.

Other industry news in brief

Spotify is downsizing its podcast ambitions as it announces the lay off of 200 staff in the division.

Stripe has acquired engineering productivity tool Okay for an undisclosed sum.

Amazon’s Alexa has ditched celebrity voices.

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Product Briefing – July 27, 2023

Shopify’s $1600 meetings and Netflix’s ad-funded success
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Product Briefing – July 20, 2023

Microsoft fights AI fatigue and Roblox’s vision for a new economy. Plus: a new tool for task automation, TikTok’s new music app and Google Docs gets a notebook

Product Briefing – July 13, 2023

Gmail and Stripe punish no shows and Twilio’s new API. Plus: YouTube gets screen locks, DeepMind’s CEO talks and a note taking ‘studio for your mind’

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