Facebook opens SDK to create chat “bots”, Apple App Store sees record sales, auto industry drives toward a more connected experience 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.
Facebook Gives Select Developers Access to “Bot-Creating” Chat SDK
Facebook is opening up a new Chat SDK to select third-party developers. The development tool can be used to create interactive “bots” for Facebook Messenger that will automatically respond to user messages with information and services. Although third-party bots could compete with Facebook’s own M assistant, the move brings the company one step closer to transforming its Messenger app into an ecosystem where users can do everything from sending messages and performing searches to booking plane tickets and making purchases. The end goal? To keep users engaged.
In other Messenger news, Facebook announced there are now 800 million monthly active users on the messaging platform. That’s significant growth since June when the company reported 700 million monthly active users. According to Nielsen, Messenger is the fastest growing app in 2015.
Apple App Store Sees Record Holiday Sales
According to Apple, the App Store experienced record sales and traffic over the holidays, with more than $1.1 billion worth of app and in-app purchases during a two week period beginning December 20 and ending January 3. Over $144 million worth of purchases were made on New Year’s Day alone, making it the most successful day the App Store has seen to date. Apple now boasts a total payout of almost $40 billion to developers since 2008.
Auto Industry Drives Toward a More Connected Experience
The auto industry is kicking off the new year with a host of connected car announcements. Here’s a roundup:
- Ford Links Cars to Connected Homes: Ford is integrating Amazon’s Echo smart speaker and Alexa virtual assistant into its SYNC in-car platform. The goal is to enable drivers to easily control their connected home from their car. Ford also announced that its vehicles will soon support Apple’s CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto.
- Fiat Chrysler Embraces CarPlay and Android Auto: Ford isn’t the only auto company to add CarPlay and Android Auto. Fiat Chrysler also announced that it will support the two platforms with its 4th generation of Uconnect.
- Toyota to Support SmartDeviceLink: Toyota announced it will support Ford’s SmartDeviceLink technology in new vehicles. The system allows drivers to connect mobile apps to their car’s interface.
- Volvo Partners with Microsoft Band 2: Now, Microsoft Band 2 users will be able to control their Volvo XC90 with voice commands. With the smartband, users can remotely control locks, start their vehicle, set navigation and more.
Fitbit Announces New “Smart, Fitness-Focused Watch”
Last week at CES, Fitbit announced a new “smart, fitness-focused watch”. The new product will track fitness as well as allow users to take incoming calls, read text messages, control music and more. This is company’s second attempt at a fitness smartwatch, following the underwhelming release of the Fitbit Blaze. The new device will function more like a smartwatch than Blaze. Shipping in March, the new Fitbit will only support a select number of third-party apps that come pre-installed.
Also announced at CES, New Balance is partnering with Intel to create a smartwatch geared toward runners. The device will launch in late 2016 and will assist runners with training programs.