The Week in Mobile: November 13-19, 2016


Snapchat files for IPO, iOS subscription apps get bigger cut of revenue, retailers use mobile to boost Black Friday traffic 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.

Snap Officially Files for IPO

After weeks of speculation, Snap reportedly has filed for its IPO. The platform boasts 150 million daily active users and is targeting $1 billion in revenue in 2017. Snapchat’s major growth comes as competing platforms like Pinterest miss revenue projects and Facebook reaches its maximum bandwidth for ad space.

While Snap was quietly filing for an IPO, the company was loudly promoting its new Spectacles with bright yellow pop-up vending machines. The glasses have a camera inside so users can take videos and photos by clicking a button on the frames. So far, Spectacles have been a hit, with the company making conscious moves to avoid the stigma that plagued Google Glass.

iOS Subscription Apps Take Home More Revenue

Apple announced it will soon take a smaller piece of the pie. The company plans to cut the percentage of revenue it takes from subscription streaming apps from 30 percent down to 15 percent. Ultimately, the goal is to entice new video streaming services to the iOS platform and improve developer relationships. Other subscription services will benefit from the same deal, but only after a user has subscribed for a year.

Facebook Messenger Now Available on Android Auto

Earlier this month, Google introduced its Android Auto platform as a standalone mobile app, bringing the vehicle command center to even more users. Now, the company has announced that Android Auto will support Facebook Messenger. The integration allows users to listen to messages and use voice command to reply while they drive. Users can also send a “I’m driving right now” message with the press of a single button. Android Auto also supports Spotify, Pandora, Google Maps, Skype and beyond.

Separately, Messenger is rolling out “Rooms” in Australia and Canada. The new feature allows users to join public conversations about specific topics. Depending on how the feature performs in these markets, Rooms may roll out to the US down the road.

Lyft Introduces SDK for iOS

Following Lyft’s release of an Android SDK earlier this year, the ride sharing company has now unveiled an open source SDK for iOS. The SDK allows iOS developers to add Lyft ride requests directly into their apps. The SDK supports ride costs, ETAs, ride types and deep linking options as well as several customizable design features. Uber has offered developer access for some time now – hopefully Lyft’s recent updates will help the company stay competitive and get its services in front of even more users.

YouTube Introduces VR App for Daydream View

Last week, YouTube introduced its first VR app, which is currently only available using Google’s new Daydream VR headset. The app serves up 360-degree YouTube videos as well as standard content. The VR viewing experience comes with a “theater mode”, which allows users to watch videos in the center of the screen and access additional information floating off to the side. Users can navigate through the app using voice commands or the Daydream View’s controller. It is unclear whether additional headsets will support the YouTube VR app in the future.

National Express to Roll Out Mobile Entertainment App

UK coach operator National Express is bringing mobile entertainment to passengers with the launch of its first app, VUER. On November 28, National Express passengers who install the new app will have access to free TV shows, magazines and news updates. For now, VUER is rolling out to 282 coaches on high traffic routes, but the company says the app will be available on all coaches by June 2017. National Express also plans to add additional features in the coming months. Soon, users will have access to access movies, audiobooks, podcasts, city guides and live trip updates.

Black Friday Deals on Mobile

The holiday shopping season is right around the corner, but you don’t have to wait until Black Friday to see what’s going on sale this year at Walmart. The retailer is giving mobile users a sneak peek at deals and will feature a map to help guide customers directly to in-store sale items. Meanwhile, Expedia is celebrating Black Friday and Cyber Monday with exclusive deals for mobile users. This mobile initiatives are part of a larger trend in which retailers seek to boost engagement and build customer loyalty.