The Week in Mobile: April 17-23, 2016


Telegram’s $1M botprize, Apple updates app store developer website, China takes 2nd for iOS revenue 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.

Telegram Launches $1M Bot Contest

In the latest salvo of the bot landgrab, the popular messaging app Telegram launched a $1 million contest to encourage developers to create useful bots for its platform. Telegram has offered a bot platform since June 2015, but with tech giants like Facebook and Microsoft making noise in the space, Telegram is turning up the heat. Prize money will be awarded to several bot developers over the course of the year. Each winner will be awarded a minimum of $25,000, but there’s an opportunity to score more cash. The contest closes December 31.

There’s been a lot of bot buzz recently, but how much is hype vs. substance? Many so far have been underwhelmed. Business Insider reporter Matt Rosoff wasn’t impressed with Facebook’s showcase bot, stating that he’d rather use the website. Similarly, TechCrunch’s Sarah Perez said chatbots for Messenger still need work. Perhaps enlisting devs with contests like Telegram’s will help crack the code.

Apple Refreshes App Store Developer Site

Last week, Apple updated its App Store developer website to include resources for building your app business. New articles and videos provide how-to’s, tricks and tips as well as case studies on a range of topics, including app store discovery, user engagement and more. The overhaul is meant to help devs navigate an increasingly crowded app market. Apple is also considering offering paid app promotion in searches, which would help some developers with app discovery.

Meanwhile, Apple announced its annual Worldwide Developers Conference will kickoff on June 13 in San Francisco. Tickets will be awarded by lottery to developers. For those unable to attend, the event will be streamed on the WWDC website and app.

Android N to Open New VR Capabilities to Devs

The second Android N Developer Preview suggests some exciting features are on the horizon for developers interested in exploring VR. References to “VR Listener” and “VR Helper” apps and VR permissions indicate that Android N will bring some new functionality to the table. This makes sense given Google’s plans to improve Android VR support prior to releasing a smartphone-enabled headset.

Elsewhere, the European Commission has officially brought charges against Android for allegedly preventing competitors from developing apps and services. The original investigation into the breach of antitrust regulations began nearly a year ago.

Avery Dennison and Evrything to Produce Smart Apparel

A new partnership between packaging and labelling company Avery Dennison and web identity company Evrything, is bringing digital identities to a range of clothing so consumers can have richer, more intelligent interactions with their preferred brands. Initially, consumers will be able to scan a QR code with their smartphone to access more extensive product information, such as manufacturing history, related loyalty programs, and recycling information, as well as do things like place a reorder. Some products will feature NFC or RFID enabled chips, which could generate data beyond the point-of-sale as the consumer uses the product.

McDonald’s Brings Tablets to UK Locations

With the launch of a new “Experience of the Future” campaign, McDonald’s is introducing Samsung Galaxy tablets to a number of locations in the UK. Tablets will allow restaurant patrons to access the internet, play games and log into social media. For now, the tablets won’t be used for ordering, but that’s a feature that could come later. The roll out in the UK is one of several recent initiatives McDonald’s has made to become more tech-savvy. This year the company also launched Happy Meal boxes that double as virtual reality headsets in Sweden, and Samsung wireless charging stations in Europe.

China Now #2 for iOS App Revenue

China is now in second place for iOS app revenue—bumping Japan into third place—according to a recent report from App Annie. The U.S. still holds the number one spot for iOS revenue by a 30 percent margin, but experts believe China will outpace the U.S. in the coming quarters. Since Q1 2015, China has held the number one spot for iOS app downloads, but recent revenue growth, primarily due to in-app purchases, are pushing the country toward first place for both downloads and revenue.