The Week in Mobile: March 15-21, 2015


Google Now to offer open API, Bitly announces deep linking functionality, Facebook Messenger opening platform to third-party apps 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 Now to Provide Developers with Open API

In February, Google Now, an intuitive mobile assistant that recommends websites and keeps track of reminders and appointments, announced a closed API, which was made available to 30 companies including Airbnb, Pandora, Lyft and Walgreens. The goal? Provide users with more personalized reminders and notifications from a variety of apps. Google is moving that initiative forward with plans to provide developers with an open API. That means just about every app would be able to communicate with Google Now, providing even more tailored interactions to users. Offering an open API could make competitors like Siri and Cortana, who have done little to open up their platforms, pale in comparison.

San Francisco Giants Expand Mobile Offerings in 2015

The San Francisco Giants are expanding their mobile app capabilities this season with the addition of more food items available for order and new seat upgrade options. The World Series champs invested $10 million in wireless infrastructure with AT&T in order to customize features on their page within the MLB Ballpark app, which was developed for all 30 major league teams, but allows each to customize their own area. The team is looking to increase revenue by leveraging investments in stadium Wi-Fi and expanding mobile app features. The Giants aren’t alone in their mobile pursuits. MLB teams have spent multiple millions of dollars on Wi-Fi, apps and analytics over the past few years.

Bitly Announces Deep Linking Functionality

There’s been a lot of buzz around deep linking lately and now Bitly, a URL shortening service, has announced Deep Links, an extension of Bitly Branding Tools, which allows mobile app users who click on a Bitly-shortened link to be directed to a specific point within an app. Deep Links will also be able to direct users to download apps in the appropriate app store. Bitly’s move beyond web based URLs into mobility means marketers will be better equipped to drive app downloads and engagement. And, as for Bitly, marketers will be more likely to user their link shortening service.

Survey Shows it Pays to Build Custom Apps

A recent survey published by CDW sought to measure the business value provided by mobile apps. While it found wide use off-the-shelf apps by employees —an average of six off-the-shelf apps for every five business-provided custom apps, the more targeted custom apps delivered more value to the business. Nearly 80 percent of businesses surveyed said they allow employees to pick and choose their own off-the-shelf apps from app stores. But 42 percent of those surveyed said they plan to invest in new app development in 2015. Those already investing in custom apps reported increased efficiency and increased productivity. On average, those using custom apps reported employees saving 7.5 hours per week.

Facebook Set to Open Messenger to 20 Third-party Apps

Facebook Messenger is expected to open its platform to about 20 third-party apps within the coming weeks. Those making the cut will integrate with Messenger following the roll-out, but what that integration will look like is not yet clear. Messenger launched as a standalone app in 2011, meant to supplement Facebook’s main app. Last year, Facebook moved all messaging capabilities to Messenger, a transition that angered many users. Since the move, Facebook has been adding to Messenger’s capabilities with features like mobile payments. Allowing third-party apps to work within Messenger will make the app its own platform, rather than simply a split-off from Facebook’s main offering.