By adaptive - October 12th, 2015
AT&T and Apple finally roll out Wi-Fi calling, as Twitter debuts a new curation tool aimed at drawing casual or new users to its social media platform. Andrew Tolve reports.
In this week’s Digest: Twitter, Pandora, Ticketfly, AT&T, Apple, Google, Facebook, GitHub, The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Facebook Messenger, Apple Watch, Microsoft, Glamsquad, Uber, New Enterprise Associates, AOL’s BBG Ventures, Paribus, Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Walmart and Been Choice.
In the news
It was a big week for Twitter, which put co-founder Jack Dorsey back at the helm as CEO in hopes of charting a smart and potentially profitable course forward. The next day Twitter launched Moments, a new curation tool that allows users to get a quick low-down of popular news and posts circulating across the Twittersphere. Think of it as a Greatest Hits album being curated in real-time. Click on any individual item of interest and a stream of tweets presents itself, along with links and images. The idea is to draw new users or recapture lapsed users with an easy interface that delivers the best of Twitter with little engagement required. The feature will live as a permanent tab in the main Twitter interface. Cool idea, although whether this is enough to slow, let alone reverse, Twitter’s stock tumble remains to be soon. #FindOutSoon.
In the money
Pandora purchased Ticketfly for $450 million. If you’re a Pandora listener, this means you’ll soon start seeing (and hearing) from the artists you like when they’re on tour in your area. If you want to go and hear a show, Pandora will now be able to serve as your e-ticketer. Sounds great in theory. Let’s just hope the music streaming airwaves on your mobile device don’t become too cluttered with marketing material from event promoters.
In other news
It finally happened: AT&T and Apple rolled out their long-anticipated Wi-Fi calling to U.S. customers. If you’ve got an iPhone 6 or newer and are running iOS9, all you have to do is go to Settings and switch on Wi-Fi Calling and your phone will automatically switch from cellular to WiFi whenever you have limited or no cell signal.
Feel like the World Wide Web has become the World Wide Wait? Google says it feels your pain and has launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project to rectify the problem. Similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles, AMP aims to instantly render articles on mobile devices every time, on every device. We can’t hold Google accountable yet because AMP is launching as an open source initiative on GitHub for the time being, with the likes of Twitter, The Washington Post and Buzzfeed on board.
Facebook Messenger launched on the Apple Watch. New messages pop up on the watch face in text, and users can send a voice clip back, or an emoji. The one limitation is that they can’t text back since the Apple Watch face is too small for texting. The app works for anyone who has installed the updated Apple Watch operating system, watchOS2.
Microsoft rolled out the latest generation of its enterprise tablet, the Surface Pro 4. This just a month after Apple launched the iPad Pro targeting the Surface Pro’s turf. The new Surface Pro has all the usual marketing adjectives attached: thinner, lighter, faster, etc. The biggest differentiating factor is likely that Surface Pro 4 allows enterprises to choose storage capacity all the way up to 512 gigs, whereas iPad Pro tops out at 128 gigs. That’s a big deal for enterprises. Retail is $899.
Barnes & Noble unveiled the next generation of its Nook e-reader. Dubbed the Samsung Galaxy Tab E Nook, this is the first Nook designed and manufactured in partnership with Samsung, and it shows. The Nook can now play all sorts of content, from movies to articles on the Web, offers a split screen feature to run two apps at once and comes with Microsoft Office pre-installed. Say what? The little Nook is all grown up. Retail is $249.
On the app front, Glamsquad, which allows users to summon beauty specialists to their hands, feet and hair with a tap of their smartphone screens (think Uber for beauty), raised $15 million in Series B funding. New Enterprise Associates provided a big chunk of the loot, along with existing investors like AOL’s BBG Ventures. That brings the startup’s total fundraising haul to $24 million.
Paribus raised $2.1 million in seed funding. If this is the first time you’ve heard of Paribus, go and download it now. Seriously. The app tracks online prices across a number of retailers, from Amazon to Target to Best Buy and Walmart, and notifies a user whenever an item they’ve already purchased has experienced a price drop. The app then automatically follows up on the customer’s behalf, files a price match claim, and delivers the difference in cash to the user’s bank account, claiming 25% commission. Wicked smart.
Finally, those ads that keep popping up on your mobile device, in native apps and on the Web — they’re not going anywhere. Like ever. Apple momentarily let down its guard and allowed a super comprehensive ad-blocker app called Been Choice into the iTunes Store last week. The app even worked on Apple News. Within days (and a little media coverage), the app was gone due to “customer privacy and security” concerns.
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.