Perplexity is the Product of the Week

Plus: Zoom and Waitroom improve video meetings, and Taskade wants to help teams and people write faster

A weekly newsletter that highlights new and innovative AI products that are worth exploring. 

Hey there, Happy Friday!

I received feedback from some people who found my email last week too dense, so I'm changing the format for this week. Something that may not have been clear in my previous emails is that I test dozens of new AI products each week and only include the best ones. I don't want to just send you a list of all the newly launched products with their their exaggerated marketing taglines. With this week’s new format, I hope to make that clearer and keep the email concise and easy to read. If you like the new format (or don't like it), tap the reply and let me know.

In this week’s issue:

  • Perplexity’s my product of the week

  • Zoom and Waitroom improve video meetings

  • Taskade wants to help teams and people write faster

  • And a short roundup of other notable launches from the week

PRODUCT OF THE WEEK

After testing dozens of new AI products this week. Here’s my top pick.

Perplexity: An AI search engine that includes citations. Founded by ex-OpenAI and ex-Meta peeps, on Tuesday, Perplexity launched their iOS app and announced that they’d raise $25 million. Some notable investors include Susan Wojcicki (Former CEO of Youtube), Paul Buchheit (Creator of Gmail), Nat Friedman (Former CEO of GitHub), and Jeff Dean (SVP, Google AI). At first glance, the app is simple. A list of trending questions and a prompt at the bottom to ask it anything. Once you ask a question it gets to work giving you a brief answer in a conversational tone and related follow up questions. But the real value add is that it includes citations. The citations are well integrated and make it easy for you to expand to read more from the original source. Useful when double checking the answer for hallucinations that are common in other LLMs… cough ChatGPT cough. Having clear sources changes my confidence in using an LLM regularly. The future of search is shaping up. [Public Launch | Free]

RUNNER-UPS

Three more AI products that are worth your time.

Waitroom: Yes, another app for better video meetings. Many companies are trying to improve video meetings because, in general, these meetings are not very effective. Waitroom has some nifty tweaks to how meetings should be conducted. The big one is an automatic queue and timer system that keeps the meeting's focus on two people interacting with everyone else camera off and listening. When the timer runs out, the next person in the queue comes into view and can talk. I can’t say this format would work that well for many of the meetings I had at Reddit, but it would have been useful for exec AMAs or engineering standups. Waitroom also has automatic AI transcriptions. Plus when a meeting was recorded it provides a list of the topics covered with the corresponding clip. [Public Launch | Free Trial]

Zoom: AI meeting summaries if you are late. Zoom overhauled their IQ feature to enhance it with AI features, most are related to their Team Chat product which I don’t think anyone actually uses. But, now when you show up late to a Zoom meeting you’ll be able to ask the AI what you missed and get a brief summary. A practical application of AI and useful for the meetings where no one is taking notes. [Public Launch | Free or Paid]

Taskade AI: Helping teams and people write faster. Taskade is a startup that has been around since 2017, competing in the highly competitive vertical of real-time collaboration tools for teams (Google Docs, Asana, Notion are some of the big players). They’ve managed to build a highly-engaged customer base. This week, they sprinkled the AI dust on their product, giving you the ability to access GPT-4 in a variety of contexts, such as brainstorming, writing, and mind maps. [Public Launch | Paid Plans]

NOTABLE NEWS

Some other notable news and product launches from this week

Microsoft Teams’ Redesign: A big redesign of Teams that puts AI at the forefront of this productivity suite.

Spotify Niche Mixes: Leverage AI to create your own personalized mixes based on just a few words of description in the Search tab.

Krisp AI Meeting Assistant: Lots of companies provide meeting transcriptions and notes, but Krisp claims to be the only one that doesn’t require you to add a bot or integration since it runs locally on your computer listening to the meeting audio.

AssemblyAI’s Conformer-1: A state-of-the-art speech recognition model trained on 650K hours of audio data that achieves near human-level performance. This new API will help many startups that offer call transcription improve their quality. It's exciting to see progress in underlying tech like this.

Replit and Google partnership: Replit, which provides a coding tool for developers, announced a partnership with Google that enables Replit to leverage Google’s AI tech. This is good competition for Microsoft and their Github Copilot product. That being said, I wholeheartedly agree with the tech analyst Ben Thompson’s analysis of this partnership:

[T]he fact that Google did not buy Replit, and is instead choosing to partner with the startup, strikes me as another worrisome indicator that Google’s leadership is lacking in boldness. Again, the single best application of AI today in terms of productivity is coding, and that means owning the [code editing tool] is essential, but Google is settling for a partnership instead.

You can read his full analysis in Stratechery.

WHAT I'M READING

If you only read one thing this week let it be this.

AI and the American Smile by Jenka

"Imagine a time traveler journeyed to various times and places throughout human history and showed soldiers and warriors of the periods what a 'selfie' is. This is the premise for a series of AI-generated images posted on r/midjourney. There are 18 images in the Reddit slideshow and they all feature the same recurring composition and facial expression. For some, this sequence of smiling faces elicits a sense of warmth and joyousness, comprising a visual narrative of some sort of shared humanity (so long as one pays no attention to the incongruousness of Spanish Conquistadors smiling happily next to Aztec warriors. Awkward.) But what immediately jumped out at me is that these AI-generated images were beaming a secret message hidden in plain sight..." MEDIUM

WHO I'M FOLLOWING

People passionate about AI that are doing cool shit.

Marily Nika is an AI product lead at Meta. Formerly AR at Google and an Executive Fellow at Harvard Business School. She's sharing a lot of great insights on what it takes to effectively lead an AI product team. Give her a follow on LinkedIn or Substack.

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Until next week! ✌🏻

-Tyler

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