The Week in Mobile: November 1-7, 2015


Facebook and Google unveil AI innovations, Apple hits 7 million watches sold, Facebook surpasses 1 billion daily 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.

Facebook and Google Unveil Innovations in Artificial Intelligence

Facebook demonstrated its latest work in artificial intelligence—a mobile helper-tool called Visual Q&A. The technology allows users to ask questions about photos on Facebook using their voice and receive audible responses about the photo. While Facebook isn’t releasing VQA to the public just yet, the technology could have a major impact down the road for blind or low-vision users (among other possibilities). VQA builds on Facebook’s long-term investment in AI research and development.

Meanwhile, Google announced a new AI tool called Smart Reply, which provides automatic responses to emails. Gmail’s new feature interprets emails and generates three responses, which users can choose from. And for messages that are more complex, Google’s AI tool will get a response email started and let you do the rest.

Apple Stats: 7 Million Watches Sold, 66% of iOS Devices Now on iOS 9

According to research firm Canalys, Apple has shipped seven million Apple Watches since its launch in April. That’s nearly one million watches sold per month. While that’s less than many analysts have predicted, Apple has still sold more smartwatches than all other vendors combined over the past five quarters. And Apple is ramping up distribution just in time for the holiday shopping season, partnering with new retailers such as Best Buy and John Lewis.

In other Apple News, the company announced that 66 percent of all iOS devices are now running on iOS 9. That’s up from 61 percent, which was reported less than a month ago. iOS 9’s adoption rate continues to outpace the adoption of all previous operating systems. iOS 8 didn’t hit 60 percent until the end of November last year and it took until late December to reach 64 percent.

Apple TV Hits 1,000 Apps; Games Top the Charts

According to data from Slide to Play, there were over 1,000 apps available for download in the Apple TV App Store last week. Although data is limited, a number of sources say game apps are topping the charts with video-related apps and fitness apps following closely behind. The other early trend of note is that app prices are falling closer to the $5 to $10 range compared to the $0.99 price tag which is common on the iOS app store.

Facebook At One Billion Daily Users

Last week, Facebook announced that the platform now averages 1.01 billion users per day. Out of an average of 1.55 billion monthly visitors, 1.39 billion access Facebook on a mobile device at least part of the time. Also noteworthy is that 78 percent of its ad revenue comes from mobile marketing. That’s impressive considering advertising sales hit $4.3 billion for the quarter – a 45 percent increase from a year ago.

Building on a successful quarter, Facebook is rolling out a new kind of ad format, which will bring video to low-bandwidth emerging markets. The goal? Facebook says it wants to “connect the next billion.”

Google to Discount Project Tango Development Kits

Google plans to offer a 50 percent discount on its 3D depth-sensing development kit. The discount is part of an initiative to get Project Tango development kits in the hands of developers and encourage the creation of innovative augmented reality experiences. The deal follows a recent Project Tango contest, which asked developers to submit AR experiences for Tango devices for the opportunity to win $20,000. Although the future of Project Tango is remains unclear, it’s evident that Google is still invested in the initiative.