The Week in Mobile: April 12-18, 2015


Apple Watch first day pre-orders estimated at 1 million, Android scrutinized for antitrust activities, Wikipedia looks to boost mobile engagement and more

Each week we round up the top news stories, think pieces and other content that centers on the fast-paced, quickly changing world of mobile technology. We tell you which companies are employing clever mobile strategies, illuminate new ways of thinking about mobile and offer a peek at meaningful trends in the industry. This content is designed to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.

Apple Watch First Day Pre-Orders Almost 1 Million, Apple Releases ResearchKit and More

The Apple Watch went up for online pre-order last week, with expected shipping dates ranging from late April to June. While Apple has not announced how many watches were made available or how many orders were placed, online commerce market research firm Slice Intelligence estimates nearly one million orders were placed during last Friday’s pre-order launch day. That’s more devices sold in a single day than the number of Android Wear smartwatches sold in all of 2014. And some analysts are estimating even higher pre-order sales figures for the Apple Watch. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo estimates over 2.3 million units were ordered globally. Unsurprisingly, estimates state that more than half of those orders were for the less expensive Sport model of Apple’s newest product.

In other Apple news, the company has officially opened its ResearchKit framework to researchers and software developers. That means medical professionals will be able to tap into data collected by iPhones, and third-party app developers will be able to create new health-related apps on top of the framework. Apps built on ResearchKit will have access to data from sensors including the accelerometer, gyroscope and microphone, as well as GPS. With the platform now open, consumers are likely to see a myriad of new health- and fitness-related apps hit the app store.

Additionally, Apple acquired a new patent last week for a system that uses information from mobile phones to automatically determine whether you’re available for a call and then display that information to contacts. Tapping into contextual information such as your current timezone, ringer setting, battery life, location and network strength, the new technology combines information to determine, for example, if you are in a meeting or some sort of exercise class and unable to take a call. It’s an innovative use of available data and one that will likely get better as time goes on and data analysis becomes more reliable. It is unclear when the new feature will be made available to iPhone users.

European Commission Launches Antitrust Investigation into Google’s Android

After three years of unofficial examination of Google’s Android operating system, the European commission is finally launching a formal antitrust investigation into Google’s Android platform. The investigation will determine whether Google has initiated anti-competitive agreements with service providers, which may have harmed the development and market access of competing apps and services. Additionally, the commission is investigating whether Google bundles its apps and services on Android devices with other Google apps, services or APIs in order to shut out competition.

Following news of the investigation, Cyanogen, a startup building an Android alternative to Google, signed an agreement with Microsoft in which the startup will distribute Microsoft’s software suite. In exchange, Microsoft will design its native apps specifically for Cyanogen’s operating system.

Wikipedia Looks to Boost Mobile Engagement with New Social Features

Last week, Wikipedia launched a brand-new app for iOS that improves on the original app’s visual design, offers better search functionality and adds social features that allow users to share facts and photos via Facebook, Twitter and Google+. The new app is part of a larger initiative to boost mobile engagement on Wikipedia through updates that improve upon user experience. Wikipedia’s integration into the iOS operating system, which allows users to access content through Spotlight and Siri searches, also means users are less likely to open up a native app when they need to search for information. That’s why the online encyclopedia is stepping outside of its comfort zone to offer social features that may be enough of a hook to attract users to open the Wikipedia app and keep those users engaged for longer periods of time.

Push Notifications See Slight Decline in Opt-In Rates

On average, users opt in to mobile app push notifications 43 percent of the time, according to a recent study by Urban Airship. While that’s a two percent decline from last year’s opt-in rate, many industries are seeing opt-in rates of over 70 percent. And those who have high opt-in rates report four times the engagement and twice the retention of other apps. Business, charity, travel & transportation and utility & productivity apps saw the highest opt-in rates this year, while mobile gaming, food & drink and retail apps saw the lowest rates.