Amazon unveils Echo Look, Android simplifies copy/paste, Instagram hits 700 million monthly active users, 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.
Android to Simplify Copy/Paste
Android is set to roll-out some fresh features aimed at making the mobile OS more intuitive than ever. Google is testing what it calls a “Copyless Paste” option that will allow users to paste text on their phone without having to copy it first. The new feature essentially functions as a more sophisticated form of autofill, relying on “context” from your Chrome search history to provide suggestions when typing in other Google apps.
Google has also announced an update this week that will automatically translate restaurant and point-of-interest reviews into your local language. The feature will make it easier for travelers to check out local cuisine without having to copy and paste text into a language translation service.
Google Enhances its Navigation and Trip-Based Apps
Google has introduced several new updates for its widely popular Maps and Trips apps to make travel easier. On Google Maps, users now have a helpful new service to keep track of where their vehicles are parked. While on Google Trips, users can take advantage of a number of new features that make planning a trip even easier. The app can now handle bus and train reservations, capture manually entered reservations and allow sharing of reservations with friends or family.
Apple also make updates to its navigation-based app last this week, adding transit options to its Maps app for the city of Paris.
Instagram Soars to 700 Million Monthly Active Users
Instagram now boasts more than 700 million active users. While the app’s user-base previously grew at a relatively steady cadence—adding about 100,000 new users every nine months—Instagram said Wednesday that it had added that many new monthly users in just the last four months alone. The new figure puts Instagram at more than twice the size of Twitter, and on the path to join Facebook’s other billion-user properties: WhatsApp and Messenger (1.2 billion) and Facebook (1.8 billion). The company credited the growth in part to the launch of Instagram stories, as well as new features that make it easier to sign-up and find your Facebook friends on the Instagram app.
Amazon Releases Echo Look: A Fashion Focused Smart Camera
Amazon has debuted a new product for the Echo family: a smart camera with a built-in AI “style assistant.” The company is calling the device Echo Look, which is designed to act as a smart mirror of sorts by cataloging and rating user’s outfits based on “machine learning algorithms with advice from fashion specialists.” Users will be able to issue commands to Alexa to take full-length photos and short videos. While Look was an unexpected addition to the Echo family, the device is already raising privacy concerns as Amazon won’t say whether the company is analyzing the photos of its customers for anything more than providing fashion advice.
Apple to Cut Commissions for App Store Affiliates
Apple plans to cut commissions for members of its App Store affiliate program from 7 percent to just 2.5 percent starting May 1st. According to an email the company shared on Tuesday, the change will only affect affiliate referrals for App Store apps and in-app purchases. While most users likely won’t be affected, those who count on affiliate links to boost revenue for their apps may see a decline in their income. The drastic cuts could also signify that there are bigger changes on the horizon for the App Store.
Spotify May Enter the Hardware Game with a New Wearable
Speculation is buzzing that Spotify is hoping to break into the hardware business with a new wearable device. According to a number of new job postings listed on the music provider’s website, Spotify is seeking a Senior Product Manager to bring the company’s vision of “category-defining product akin to Pebble Watch, Amazon Echo, and Snap Spectacles” to life. Spotify has dabbled with hardware to improve its functionality on third party devices in the past, but if the rumors are true—this would mark its first foray into its own consumer hardware product.