The Week in Mobile: November 6-12, 2016


Google Play allows promotional app pricing, Android Auto available on mobile, Samsung Galaxy to feature Viv 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.

Google Play to Allow Promotional Pricing of Apps

The Google Play Store is in for another update, which will allow developers to offer promotional pricing for subscription apps. While this may seem like a small change, it could help subscription-based apps significantly increase downloads. So who stands to benefit? Music, video and TV apps like Spotify, YouTube Red and Hulu could draw new users by offering a lower starting price upon signup. There’s also an opportunity for productivity apps like Evernote to lower their prices to attract new users.

Meanwhile, Apple’s App Store has seen a flood of fake apps entering the marketplace in an attempt to emulate popular brand names in order to trick users into downloading the app. Once downloaded, the app asks for credit card or other private information. In response, Apple has set up a system that allows developers and users to flag these impersonators for removal.

Android Auto Available on Mobile Devices

If you’re driving a new Hyundai Sonata, Skoda, VW Fox, Honda Accord or Audi Q7, you might have already had a chance to use Android Auto, Google’s in-car information platform. But now there’s good news for those who aren’t in the market for a new vehicle. Google has rolled out Android Auto for smartphones so users can access all of the same features directly from their mobile devices without needing a compatible car. Mobile users can use the Android Auto platform to manage navigation, music and incoming messages in a simplified, lower distraction format.

Samsung Devices to Feature New Smart Assistant, Viv

Samsung is taking on Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa with the introduction of the Galaxy S8 smartphone, which is set to release in 2017. The new device will feature Samsung’s first artificial intelligence assistant, Viv. Samsung acquired the assistant developed by Siri co-creator, in October to secure the solution for future devices. The company hopes the AI assistant will help renew interest and rebuild the smartphone brand following the recent PR “challenges” with the Galaxy Note 7.

PayPal Lets Users Send Payments with Siri

PayPal is introducing a new feature that allows iOS users to send and request payments through Siri. That means users no longer need to open the PayPal app to make a payment. Now, transfers can be made with a simple voice command. The feature takes advantage of iOS 10, which unlocked Siri for third-party developers. Companies like Uber and Skype have made similar updates, allowing users to complete actions via Siri voice command.

Facebook Rolls Out News Feed Ads for Bot Discovery

Facebook is trying to make it easier for bot developers to get in front of relevant users with the rollout of News Feed ads that, when clicked on, redirect users to the Messenger app to engage with a bot. These brands now have the opportunity to advertise products and supporting bots to the specific audience of their choosing. Developers will be able to track where bot traffic is coming from for better audience targeting in the future. Additionally, once a user had engaged with a Messenger bot, that bot is then allowed to send sponsored messages.

McDonald’s Introduces Mobile Ordering in Select Markets

McDonald’s announced a new mobile ordering app, which will roll out in Australia, Canada, France and the UK in 2017. Assuming the launch is successful, the fast food giant plans to introduce the app to as many as 25,000 restaurants around the globe by the end of 2018. Other quick-service restaurants, including Starbucks, Taco Bell and Domino’s, have already rolled out successful mobile ordering initiatives. McDonald’s may be late to the game, but it’s clear there’s an appetite for this type of service.