Look Ma, No Hands! Playing Trivia on the Commute

It has been just over one week since the hands-free driving law in Minnesota took effect, and I’ve already figured out a hack!

This week I’m testing a mobile app experience called Drivetime that actually encourages you to use your phone while you drive. But with your voice, of course.

Set up like a morning drive time radio program, Drivetime pits you against another player to answer trivia questions that get increasingly harder. There’s banter back and forth between the hosts like you would hear on terrestrial radio, and you truly don’t need to touch your phone once you start playing.

Targeting the 110 million North Americans who commute to and from work by themselves, Drivetime may have a captive market – especially as hands-free distracted driving laws are on the increase.

The gamification aspect allows you to play 1:1 against your immediate friends on the app, or if none of them are playing, a random player. I played against strangers Melissa, Nathan and Steve on my commute this morning, and I won two of three rounds. I have to admit I got pretty competitive on that final round. Damn you, Steve!!!

After you have safely parked and can once again legally touch your cell phone, users can also navigate the app settings to pull up personalized Trivia Stats, including total number of questions answered, accuracy, and a breakdown of your success in various categories (e.g., History, Literature, Music, TV & Film). It’s a running tally of just how much random crap you know.

What’s most impressive about Drivetime are the advances in speech recognition technology that allow you to play using just your voice and both hands on the wheel. It’s more like playing Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me than HQ Trivia, except with a stunningly accurate understanding of your spoken word answers.

For daily commuters, competitive trivia could be a nice break from NPR, podcasts, Spotify or just listening to the gentle hum of the tires on the freeway to work. The production and hosts are a little cheesy, but the concept is pretty fun.

Beyond the free daily Drivetime Trivia, the app includes music-based quizzes, hands-free blackjack games, and US and world capital quizzes – all unlockable as part of their freemium model that is not cheap whatsoever ($9.99/month!), but would perhaps make a road trip all the more interesting. I’m going to pass on that for now.

Want to play me in Drivetime Trivia? Download it on iOS or Android, and add me as a friend!

DISCLAIMER: Do not text and drive. I’ve done it, and I’m not proud of it. It was stupid, and I was stupid. Do not endanger yourself or others being stupid on your phone while you drive. Only use this app if you are absolutely safe.

Life Lessons from Candy Crush

My family was enjoying the flaming volcano knife show at Benihana this week when I causually mentioned a recent news story that more than 9 million people play Candy Crush for 3 hours or more a day. The strangers at our shared teppanyaki table guffawed, and I laughed along with them.

And my wife says, “I play Candy Crush. In fact, I played it today. And yesterday.”

I fell off my chair.

Even when you spend your career studying emerging consumer behavior and how new technology impacts them, you can easily fall into the trap of pointing and laughing “Ha-ha!” (cue Nelson from The Simpson’s) when it comes to behavior that seems outdated, counterintuitive, or in the case of Candy Crush, easily mockable.

So I installed Candy Crush and played a few games. Because “I should try it” needs to be our mindset when we don’t understand human behavior around technology. So I tried it. It’s not for me. But I get it now.

And I am even more curious about the trend of young people getting hooked on pay to win mechanics through games like these.

Me? I’m more of a Dr. Mario fan. And I don’t care if you laugh or not.

Social Pulse, Week of 7-1

State of Journalism #’s: This week MuckRack released their 2019 State of Journalism, which includes findings like: Twitter is the leading social network among journalists (83%). After Twitter, Instagram is the platform journalists plan to spend the most time on over the next year. In the course of reporting 61% of journalists usually or always check a company’s social media profiles. Download the full report here.

App of the Week: There’s a new app called Bye Bye Camera that uses A.I. to remove humans from your photos. The founder says this is “An app for the post-human era… The app takes out the vanity of any selfie and also the person.” The results can be striking.

Instagram Trends and Tips: Hootsuite published their 15 Most Important Instagram Trends (e.g., more stories and fewer posts, relatable influencers, #nofilter, increase of Twitter and TikTok content posted to Instagram). SMT published these 8 Tips on How to Create Effective Instagram Stories and Stories Ads.

Twitterer of the Week: Check out @wiki_tmnt, a bot that posts hourly Wikipedia titles that you can sing to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song (e.g., Landmark Office Towers Complex or Morgans Landing, West Virginia). Turtle power!

LinkedIn Ad Updates: Advertising on LinkedIn is steadily getting better. Earlier this year, they added interest-based and lookalike audiences. This week we learned they  will be adding the ability for advertisers to retarget LinkedIn users who engage with their LinkedIn ads, which will increase personalization and tracking. LinkedIn also will add more options for geography-based targeting for city, state and countries.

OOC Post: There is a closed Facebook group called A group where we all pretend to be boomers whose members roleplay as stereotypical Baby Boomers by posting in all-caps, sharing Minion memes, chain-letters, or sharing public posts that perhaps should have been private messages (e.g., “What is EVERYONE Bringing to Debbies potluck tomorrow”). Although largely unfair and mean-spirited about an entire generation’s online behavior, the group has grown from a couple thousand to almost 200,000 members in the last two weeks.

YouTuber of the Week: As covered in The Atlantic this week, teens are abandoning hyper-produced personalities for people who seem just like them. And Emma Chamberlain is the most important YouTuber today. Key quote: “While other YouTube stars—like Jake and Logan Paul, Bethany Mota, and Lele Pons—rely on hyper-produced, staged videos with bright thumbnails and clickbait titles, Chamberlain posts lo-fi vlogs using default fonts, clashing color schemes, and lowercase titles that never overpromise.”

TikTok Tunes: Since Instagram, Facebook and Instagram all experienced global downtime this week, it seems like a good move to share this music video entirely made of TikToks.