Walmart is buying a majority stake in India’s Flipkart for $16 billion. And after selling its stake in Flipkart to Walmart, eBay plans to relaunch its eBay India business. The Flipkart takeover marks a new chapter in Walmart’s rivalry with Amazon, which has identified the world’s second-most-populous country as the emerging international market of the future that it must win. Investors Tiger Global, SoftBank and Accel are the other big winners after Walmart bought their shares. [Jason Del Rey / Recode]
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Google and Microsoft held overlapping developer conferences this week, and there was too much to absorb at once. Here’s a roundup from both events of what’s new, what’s real and what’s vapor. At Microsoft Build, the company previewed a new app that can sync Android phones and iPhones with Windows 10; previewed a partnership with Amazon that lets Cortana and Alexa work together; and promised developers that it will only take a 5 percent cut from apps, leaving developers with 95 percent of the money they bring in. And at Google I/O, we were introduced to Android P, an ambitious update of the mobile OS; augmented-reality directions paired with Street View and a redesigned, AI-powered Google News app; new, natural-sounding voices for Google Assistant — John Legend’s voice is coming to the device soon; and an AI feature that uses AI to help users create emails by making suggestions for complete sentences.
Google Assistant made an uncannily realistic-sounding phone call to a real human to book a haircut during an onstage demo at Google I/O. Using an experimental feature called Duplex, the robot did an alarmingly good job of asking the right questions, pausing in the right places — even throwing in the odd “mmhmm” for realism. The person on the receiving end of the call didn’t seem to suspect they were talking to an artificially intelligent device instead of a human This seems like a good moment to ask — how frightened should we be of AI? [James Vincent / The Verge]
One of Microsoft’s longtime designers reminisced about the company’s product flops during the Build developer conference. Jon Friedman — now chief designer of Office 365 — walked through some of the company’s notorious consumer device failures, including the Spot watches from 2004, ultramobile PCs, the Kin social mobile phone and the unreleased Courier note-taking device, which may yet see the light of day as part of the Surface line. [Tom Warren / The Verge]
Apple plans to begin selling subscriptions to some video services directly via its TV app, rather than asking users to subscribe to them through apps downloaded from its App Store. In a move that looks like a page from the Amazon playbook, the simplified cord-killing feature, which may roll out later this year, would bolster Apple’s TV app on Apple TV, iPhones and iPads, making it a central place for people to find, watch and buy content. [Lucas Show, Gerry Smith and Mark Gurman / Bloomberg]
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