Tech companies roll out questionable updates on April 1


  • TECH
  • Monday, 01 Apr 2019

Duo is watching, there is no escape from Duo. Make sure to do your daily lesson, or else Duo won't leave. It watches.

Considering how gungho tech companies are about disrupting the status quo, one can't always be sure if it's an April Fool's gag or a real update. That said, there's a strong chance these features are jokes.

Language learning service Duolingo is rolling out Duolingo Push, a more aggressive reminder to make users do their daily classes.

Instead of the usual annoying notification, users can subscribe to be stalked by Duo the Owl – possibly a person in a mascot costume – who will show up and follow the user around to guilt them into practising.

"Never miss a day of language practice again. Duolingo's new, in-person notifications can find you wherever you are. Ignore at your own risk," it says, with an ominous image of Duo lurking outside a user's home.

These in-person reminders come in three packages: Encouraging Duo for US$25 (RM102) monthly, Passive-Aggressive Duo for US$50 (RM204) and Disappointed Duo US$100 (RM408). Each package is progressively pricier and designed to guilt users harder.

Meanwhile, dating app Tinder is introducing Height Verification Badge (HVB) which, as the name implies, verifies users are as tall as they claim to be. 

"Say goodbye to height fishing. Let’s be real, when it comes to online dating – honesty is the best policy. Yes, your height matters as long as every other shallow aspect of physical attraction does. Please try not to take it to heart," says Tinder.

The feature works by having users take a photo next to any commercial building, which Tinder will use secret verification technology to confirm the user is as tall as they claim.

"This type of dishonestly doesn’t just hurt your matches – it hurts us, too. Did it ever occur to you that we’re 5ft6in and actually love our medium height? Did it ever occur to you that honesty is what separates humans from sinister monsters? Of course not," says Tinder, in an oddly self-conscious statement.

Amazon's audiobook service Audible rolled out a service for fish, called Audible for Fish, which feature three-second audiobooks for fish owners to play when leaving their fish at home.

"Audible for Fish was inspired by the popular belief that fish have three second memories, with the audiobook designed to be played on loop via a waterproof speaker to interrupt the monotony of tank time," it says, with a photo of a goldfish wearing headphones. 

Another audio company to get in on the hijinks is Spotify, with its Discocover Weekly. Leveraging off users' listening patterns and the music of the 70's, Spotify is serving up its weekly recommendations with a disco twist.

Users with a keen ear will notice that the songs they expect to hear are instead replaced with disco covers. (Users who don't notice a difference might want to consider trying new music from this millenium.)

Shutterstock is also going retro, committing to bring its collection of over 250 million images, 14 million film reels and 6,476.4 hours of music and audio tracks from the digital realm into the real world, all stored in a bricks-and-mortar library in New York, in the United States.

Those hoping to lift images by scanning these physical resources will be disappointed as the company assures all resources will include Shutterstock's characteristic watermark.

It adds that the library will not hire librarians, instead using Cyanotypes, a "first-of-their-kind AI-powered robot" to help users efficiently search through the catalogue as the use of non-human intelligent units will allow for the library to be open 24 hours a day, all year long.

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