By adaptive - April 27th, 2015

Apple Pay has a big week at the office, as Facebook announces that it’s piloting a new in-app search engine. Andrew Tolve reports. - See more at:

In this week’s Digest: Facebook, Google, T-Mobile, Sprint, Apple Pay, Discover, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Best Buy, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, iPhone 6 Plus, Microsoft, Nokia, Duo Security, Apple Watch, TAG Heuer and Apple Watch Edition.

In the news

Facebook confirmed that it’s piloting a new in-app search engine that allows users to scan the web for links and photos to paste into their posts and comments. The idea is to eliminate the need to leave Facebook to go to Google to return to Facebook when adding a link. It also gives Facebook more places to pepper in in-app advertisements and loads of valuable data about which news and links users are most interested in. The service is called “Add a Link” and is currently available to select iOS users. If pilots go according to plan, it could be rolled out universally this year. After that, let the Google Facebook search wars begin.

Also in mobile search, Google announced that mobile searches on Google now outnumber laptop and desktop searches in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan. That means that for the first time ever the majority of the 100 billion searches occurring on Google each month now happen on smartphones or tablets. Nota bene, mobile marketers.

In the money

As hype flurried around the Fight of the Century in Las Vegas, the two welterweights of mobile carriers in the U.S., T-Mobile and Sprint, sparred for the number 3 spot in the American market. T-Mobile claimed that it had overtaken Sprint as its first quarter reports showed 1.8 million new customers in contract, hurtling it ahead of Sprint’s 55.9 million customers. Sprint pulled itself up off the mat, announcing the next week that its total contract customers had surged to 57.1 million, back ahead of T-Mobile by 300,000. Dramatics aside, both mobile carriers seem to be losing, as T-Mobile reported that its first quarter earnings were down $63 million from Q1 2014, while Sprint revealed that its first quarter earnings were down $600,000 million from Q1 2014.

In other news

All major credit card companies now support Apple Pay, as Discover has signed an agreement with Apple that enables Discover cardholders to synchronize their accounts with Apple Pay. Discover joins Visa, MasterCard and American Express, which supported Apple Pay since its launch in October 2014.

Best Buy also announced that customers will be able to use Apple Pay for in-store purchases starting in late 2015. Best Buy is a key supporter of CurrentC, one of Apple Pay’s big potential rivals in the mobile payment sector, but says that competition will ultimately help everyone in the mobile payment sector succeed, and it doesn’t want to ostracize Apple Pay users in the process.

After years of hearing that big phones and phablets couldn’t succeed in the U.S. market, statistics show the opposite to be the case. Phablet sales climbed from 6% to 21% of all U.S. smartphone sales in the first quarter of 2015, a fourfold increase according to the latest report from market data firm Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. Much of that was thanks to the iPhone 6 Plus, which owned almost half of the segment (44%). Kantar says that 43% of iOS buyers and 47% of Android buyers cite screen size as the primary reason for selecting a particular phone.

Microsoft appears to finally be jumping on the phablet train, as it plans to roll out a premium 5.7-inch Lumia smartphone called the Cityman in 2015, according to an exclusive in UnleashThePhones. This is notable as Microsoft has been targeting smaller, low-cost smartphones since acquiring the Nokia brand in 2014. Similar to the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus size combo, Microsoft is also planning a 5.2-inch smartphone called the Talkman.

On the smartwatch front, enterprise security startup Duo Security added Apple Watch compatibility to its app. Duo works by requiring two-step authentication to access a device. In the case of the Apple Watch, this means simply tapping Agree on a push notification that pops up on the screen. Idea being that as smartwatches join the bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon, enterprises will be eager to make them as secure as possible.

The high-end smartwatch market looks to be heating up, as TAG Heuer is set to launch a luxury smartwatch this fall that will retail for $1400. The watch is powered by an Intel processor and runs on Android Wear. The $1400 price point is still well below the $10,000 for the Apple Watch Edition. This will be TAG Heuer’s first smartwatch.

Finally, an unlikely suspect seems to be wreaking havoc on Apple Watch sensors: wrist tattoos. Ever since Apple Watches started hitting wrists around the world, users have reported that the heart-rate monitor can be a little finicky, providing inconsistent readings or dropping out altogether. One reason, Apple says, is that the ink from body art can block the light that the heart-rate sensor needs to get a good reading. There’s a work around, but it involves wearing bluetooth chest straps … which frankly no one wants to do.

So the next time you’re considering that tribal wrist tat, let the Apple Watch throw a little caution to the wind.

The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Open Mobile Media.
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