The Department of Product


Thursday, 21 September, 2023

Google Bard Extensions and TimeOS Plus: Slides gets indicators, WhatsApp payments expand, Fitbit’s makeover

Hi product people 👋,

Apple’s iOS17 officially launches this week but there’s another operating system worth exploring, too. TimeOS is described as the world’s first “time operating system” and this week the company unveiled a new browser extension. Designed to integrate directly into your workflow, TimeOS can capture notes, schedule your calendar and even attend meetings for you.

As larger companies roll out similar features, though, it’s becoming more difficult for startups to compete. And Google’s latest launch is a testament to that. This week, the company announced a significant update to its Bard chatbot: Bard Extensions. The new update means Bard will be able to connect to other Google apps like Docs, Gmail, Maps, YouTube and more. Bard’s Director of Product Management, Yury Pinsky outlined the technology underpinning the new feature in a blog post and says that the extensions can be used for use cases like planning trips, writing cover letters and drafting business documents.

Questions do remain though, about the accuracy of Bard and Google has acknowledged this with the introduction of a ‘Google It’ button which allows users to use Search as a fact checker. For product teams, there’s one Bard use case in particular that you might want to try.

Meanwhile, if you’re pruning your product roadmap and wondering what to build in your next quarter, one of the questions many teams fail to ask themselves is: which features should we kill? Jimo is a new product designed to help product teams understand which features are being used so that you can either decide to drive awareness and boost engagement or remove them entirely. It also allows teams to validate a new concept or idea through a neat integration with Figma where users get the chance to interact with prototypes before anything is built. 

Finally, if you’re the type of person who opens a new tab every time you want to perform a new task, this tool might be useful.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

– Rich


P.S. admissions for the Web Technologies program 2023 with Square’s Product Lead, close next week. 


Essential reads for product teams

The latest from the Department of Product Substack

UX – The psychology behind effective landing pages

Every screen in a website or app needs to make its purpose clear to its visitors: What can they do, and how can they do it? Without visual hierarchy, this becomes very difficult (Growth Design)


Skills – How to use AI for project forecasting

You have a new product idea, and the first question is: How long will it take to build? Normally, project forecasting is a game of guesstimates and debates. AI—specifically Monte Carlo simulation—makes that a thing of the past. Get an instant forecast for any project, based on historical actuals. (Socratic*)

Try it


Technical explainers – What are passkeys?

Virtually every major breach in the past 10 years has involved, in one way or another, someone gaining access to an account fraudulently. (Technically)

Tools you can use

  • Goless – one click task automation in your browser

  • Rise – a beautiful new calendar designed to schedule and optimise your day

  • Paste 4.0 – the new way to manage everything you’ve ever saved to your clipboard

  • Commented – add comments directly to your website so team members can quickly see your feedback


Product strategy – How Nvidia grows

How they grow brings you in-depth analyses on the growth of world-class companies, including their early strategies, current tactics, and actionable product-building lessons you can learn from them. In this edition, chip maker Nvidia is the focus. (How they grow)

New product features, launches and announcements this week

Roblox is rolling out tools and APIs for developers to build in-app subscriptions. Users won’t be able to purchase subscriptions until November but the new tools are part of a wave of new monetization options for creators. 

Fitbit has launched a major redesign of its mobile app which adopts Google’s Material Design.

Meta is expanding its WhatsApp payment feature to India. The service will allow users of WhatsApp Business to take payments from customers via credit and debit cards. It will be free to use for consumers but businesses will pay a small fee per transaction. The announcement coincides with the launch of ‘Flows’ which will allow businesses to create tailored user journeys for specific actions. 

Google Slides has added collaborative indicators to boost collaboration. The new indicators are switched off by default but once on, they work in a similar way to other live pointer indicators on products like Miro. 

TikTok has unveiled a new way for creators to label AI generated content.

📈 Product data and trends to stay informed

In 2022, Microsoft consumed enough water to fill over 2,500 Olympic swimming pools as it continued to fuel and cool its growing stable of AI products. In 2022, the company’s water use was up 34% from the year before, with ~6.4 million cubic meters. Full 2022 environmental sustainability report

Funding for team collaboration and project management tools such as Airtable, Notion and others dropped significantly in 2022 to $244 million as the pandemic boom ended. In 2021, top project management tools raised $2 billion+ in equity funding. 

A Google VP says it has roughly 5 million advertisers, compared with about 10 million who advertise on Meta.

Deepfake ecommerce live streaming is on the rise on Tabao, China’s most popular e-commerce platform. Influencers use AI clones to power 24 / 7 streaming powered by Nanjing-based startup Silicon Intelligence. In 2020, the company needed 30 minutes to create a digital clone, now just one minute of video is needed.

Shopify is now the world’s third largest web hosting company, with 4% of the web hosting market. Amazon takes the top spot.

Other product news in brief

Microsoft’s chief product officer is leaving the company after 19 years. Panos Panay is reportedly heading to Amazon. 

Salesforce CEO says he’s always been a remote worker, despite a 3 day a week return to office mandate for staff.

Instacart has gone public and its co-founder is departing so that he can build something similar in a new industry.

Gaia: Future by Toronto-based artist lifewithart explores the relationship between VR and nature.
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Product Briefing – November 9, 2023

GPTs for everything, Google Maps gets Immersive, Netflix’s QR codes
Plus: Slack’s CEO exits, How to use conjoint analysis, a new tool for reading API documentation

Product Briefing – November 2, 2023

Google Slides’ superpowers, a Sublime second brain, Pinterest’s PMF
Plus: Tech salary report, how to manage API integrations, Spotify, Instagram and LinkedIn MAUs in context

Product Briefing – October 26, 2023

Discord monetization strategies, Slack ditches X, Spotify growth
Plus: 50+ product analytics tools, Microsoft impresses, Google Meet gets appearance enhancers

Product Briefing – October 19, 2023

Netflix’s $8 billion quarter, Figma in limbo, Synthetic UX research. Plus: YouTube’s major release, a new way to manage your calendar, the Web Technologies Report 2023

Product Briefing – October 5, 2023

Google Docs’ new competitor, AI wars, App industry benchmarks
Plus: Airbnb’s ML patent, DoorDash’s swipe for restaurants and Uber expands to returns

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