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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

While Robinhood pushes back against any suggestion that it is deliberately gamifying investing, another company about to go public — language-learning app Duolingo — is placing its gamification skills front and center.

Why it matters: According to Duolingo's prospectus, "the high engagement driven by gamification leads to consistent learning and demonstrable efficacy."

How it works: Duolingo has A/B tested its way to a highly addictive app, in a successful attempt to solve the biggest problem in language learning, which is that people aren't motivated to spend enough time doing it.

  • The catch: The way to get people to spend more time on the app might not be the best way to get them to learn a language. Burr Settles, Duolingo's director of research, told Natasha Mascarenhas of TechCrunch that users spend more time on the app whenever it gets easier.
  • "Ultimately, when the product team has to make a decision between engagement and learning efficacy, it typically must err toward entertainment over education," writes Mascarenhas.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Sep 1, 2021 - Technology

South Korea's new App Store law makes global waves

Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP via Getty Images

Lawmakers in South Korea have passed legislation to force Apple and Google to allow rival in-app payment mechanisms within their mobile operating systems.

Why it matters: While the legislation is limited to South Korea, lawmakers and regulators around the globe have also been weighing action on mobile app stores and could seek to force a similar move in other regions.

3 mins ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).