I would happily ditch the selfie camera for a full-screen phone

I would happily ditch the selfie camera for a full-screen phone

Once a month or so, I’m reminded that my phone has a front-facing camera when I accidentally hit the toggle button, only to be greeted with a closeup image of my own, dumb face.

Honestly, I can’t remember the last time I used the thing — not intentionally, at least. I tried scrolling through my camera roll to locate the precise moment in which I felt compelled to take a selfie, but ultimately ended up getting tired of the exercise, giving up some time around May of last year.

I have no use for the front-facing camera. I don’t know, maybe I’m in the minority on this one, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Every time I see another phone with another notch or hear stories about companies frantically pushing for some workaround, I quietly wonder what it would be like to live in a world where that wasn’t an issue, because there was no camera getting in the way of that precious screen real estate.

I realize for most mainstream manufacturers, this is probably just a pipe dream. Too many companies have invested too much in the technology to make it appear unnecessary. In recent years, the device has taken on an importance beyond the selfie, including, most notably, the big push by Apple, Samsung and countless Android manufacturers to add face unlock.

There are the proprietary apps like FaceTime and Animoji and a powerful lobby of third-party social media companies that rely on the inclusion of as many cameras as humanly possible on a mobile device. I suppose I fall out of that target demographic. I don’t Snapchat or FaceTime, and when the Google app changed from Hangouts to Meet and I suddenly saw video of myself staring back, again, total freak-out.

Perhaps it’s best left to some smaller manufacturer looking to distinguish themselves from a million other Android manufacturers. Someone out there could be the first to go truly full screen, without a silly gimmick like the Vivo’s pop-up, or whatever eight million patents Essential has filed over the past couple of years. Full screen, without the inherent vanity of that unblinking eye staring back at you.

I’m not saying its enough for one company to get me to switch over, but it’s 2018 and 90 percent of smartphones look virtually identical. Why not at least give the consumer the ability to opt out, at least until phone manufacturers solve the notch?  

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

20 takeaways from Meeker’s 294-slide Internet Trends report

20 takeaways from Meeker’s 294-slide Internet Trends report

This is a must-read for understanding the tech industry. We’ve distilled famous investor Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report down from its massive 294 slides of stats and charts to just the most important insights. Click or scroll through to learn what’s up with internet growth, screen addiction, e-commerce, Amazon versus Alibaba, tech investment and artificial intelligence.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Google’s Area 120 incubator aims to improve your NYC subway commute with Pigeon

Google’s Area 120 incubator aims to improve your NYC subway commute with Pigeon

There’s a new app coming out of Google’s Area 120 incubator that could help New York City subway commuters navigate the ever-growing number of delays.

While the Pigeon app is already live on the Apple App store, it currently requires an invite code to access, so I wasn’t able to try it out myself.

However, the Pigeon website describes it as a way for users save their favorite routes, then get recommendations on which route to take on a given day based on delays and crowds reported by other users. It’s almost like a transit-oriented version of Google-owned navigation app Waze.

“After years of living in New York City and commuting on the subway, the Pigeon team knows first-hand that public transit can be frustratingly unpredictable,” the website says. “So when we started this project, we decided to create a product that lets subway riders help each other avoid delays, crowds, and incidents that make can make commuting so stressful.”

Pigeon

As a New Yorker myself, I mostly rely on Google Maps for subway navigation — it does a reasonably good job of including arrival times and information about delays provided by the MTA, but there’s definitely room for more up-to-date and accurate data. Plus, I usually don’t check the app on my normal commute, which can mean I end up late to important meetings, or missing them entirely, due to an unexpected delay.

Startups like Transit (backed by Accel Partners) and Moovit (backed by Sequoia and Intel Capital) are also trying to offer better navigation for public transit commuters.

When asked about the app, a Google spokesperson sent us the following statement:

One of the many projects that we’re working on within Area 120 is Pigeon, an iOS app that helps New York City subway goers find the best route with live alerts from other riders. Like other projects within Area 120, it’s a very early experiment so there aren’t many details to share right now.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

The Microsoft Launcher for Android now lets you track your kids’ whereabouts

The Microsoft Launcher for Android now lets you track your kids’ whereabouts

Microsoft is launching an update to its Android launcher today that gives parents the ability to track their kids’ location. This is one out of a number of parent- and kid-focused announcements the company made today. Others include the ability to block sites in Microsoft Edge on Android and the launch of MSN Kids, a new curated news website for children.

At the core of these new features are Microsoft’s family group settings that already allowed you to do things like track a child’s activity on Windows 10 and Xbox One devices or limit screen time in general.

“As a mother to a young and curious daughter, I deeply understand the need for tools to help balance the use of technology in the home as well as out of the home,” writes Shilpa Ranganathan, the General Manager of Microsoft’s Mobile Experiences group, in today’s announcement. “It’s especially near and dear to me as leader of a team building experiences for mobile devices. We emphasize the idea of transparency as a guiding principle for these new experiences.”

The new tracking tool is rolling out with today’s update of the Microsoft Launcher for Android and will put the latest known location of your kids right in its personalized news feed.

I’m not sure how useful blocking access to sites in Edge for Android really is, but if you manage to lock your kids out from Chrome or any other pre-installed browser — and block them from downloading them — then I guess this could work.

As for MSN Kids, Microsoft notes that the site will curate information from trusted sources, including Time for Kids, Popular Science, Sports Illustrated for Kids, National Geographic, and USA TODAY. It’s worth noting that there is no sponsored content or advertising on the site.

 

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Klaxoon gets $50M to try to make boring meetings more interactive and productive

Klaxoon gets M to try to make boring meetings more interactive and productive

If you’ve ever been in a pointless meeting at work, odds are you’ve spent part of the time responding to messages or just putzing around on the Internet — but Klaxoon hopes to convert that into something a bit more productive with more interactive meetings.

The French startup today said it’s raised $50 million in a new financing round led by Idinvest Partners, with early round investors BPI, Sofiouest, Arkea and White Star Capital Fund also participating. The company offers a suite of tools designed to make those meetings more engaging and generally just cut down on useless meetings with a room of bored and generally unengaged people that might be better off working away at their desk or even taking other meetings. The company has raised about $55.6 million in total.

The whole point of Klaxoon is to make meetings more engaging, and there are a couple ways to do that. The obvious point is to translate what some classrooms are doing in the form of making the whole session more engaging with the use of connected devices. You might actually remember those annoying clickers in classrooms used to answer multiple choice questions throughout a session, but it is at least one way to engage people in a room — and offering a more robust way of doing that may be something that helps making the session as a whole more productive.

Klaxoon also offers other tools like an interactive whiteboard (remember Smartboards, also in classrooms?) as well as a closed networks for meeting participants that aims to be air-gapped from a broader network so those employees can conduct a meeting in private or if the room isn’t available. All this is wrapped together with a set of analytics to help employees — or managers — better conduct meetings and generally be more productive. All this is going to be more important going forward as workplaces become more distributed, and it may be tempting to just have a virtual meeting on one screen while either working on a different one — or just messing around on the Internet.

Of course, lame meetings are a known issue — especially within larger companies. So there are multiple interpretations of ways to try to fix that problem, including Worklytics — a company that came out of Y Combinator earlier this year — that are trying to make teams more efficient in general. The idea is that if you are able to reduce the time spent in meetings that aren’t really productive, that’ll increase the output of a team in general. The goal is not to monitor teams closely, but just find ways to encourage them to spend their time more wisely. Creating a better set of productivity tools inside those meetings is one approach, and one Klaxoon seems to hope plays out.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

iOS App Store has seen over 170B downloads, over $130B in revenue since July 2010

iOS App Store has seen over 170B downloads, over 0B in revenue since July 2010

The App Store has seen over 170 billion downloads over the past decade, totaling over $130 billion in consumer spend. This data was shared this morning by app intelligence firm App Annie, which is marking the App Store’s 10th Anniversary with a look back on the store’s growth and the larger trends it’s seen. These figures aren’t the full picture, however – the App Store launched on July 10, 2008 with just 500 applications, but App Annie arrived in 2010. The historical data for this report, therefore, goes from July 2010 through December 2017.

That means the true numbers are even higher that what App Annie can confirm.

The report paints a picture of the continued growth of the App Store over the years, noting that iOS App Store revenue growth outpaces downloads, and that nearly doubled between 2015 to 2017.

iOS device owners apparently love to spend on apps, too.

The iOS App Store only has a 30 percent share of worldwide downloads, but accounts for 66 percent of consumer spend, the report says.

But this isn’t a complete picture of the iOS vs. Android battle, as Google Play isn’t available in China. App Annie’s data is incomplete on this front as it’s not accounting for the third-party Android app stores in China.

China today plays an outsized role, as App Annie has repeatedly reported, in terms of App Store revenue, even without Google Play. In fact, the APAC region accounts for nearly 60 percent of consumer spend – a trend that began in earnest with the October 2014 release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in China.

But when you look back at the App Store trends to date (or, as of July 2010 – which is as far back as App Annie’s data goes), it’s the U.S. that leads by a slim margin. China has quickly caught up but the U.S. is still the top country for all-time downloads, with 40.1 billion to China’s 39.9 billion; and it has generated $36 billion in consumer spend to China’s $27.7 billion.

iPhone users are heavy app users, too, the report notes.

In several markets, users have 100 or more apps installed, including Australia, India, China, Germany, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, and France. The U.S., U.K., and Mexico come close, with 96, 90, and 89 average monthly apps installed in 2017, respectively.

Of course the numbers of apps used monthly are much smaller, but still range in the high 30’s to low 40’s, App Annie claims.

The report additionally examines the impact of games, which accounted for only 31 percent of downloads in 2017, but generated 75 percent of the revenue. The APAC regions plays a large role here as well, with 3.4 billion game downloads last year, and $19.3 billion in consumer spend.

Subscriptions, meanwhile, are a newer trend, but one that’s already boosting App Store revenues considerably, accounting for $10.6 billion in consumer spend in 2017. This is driven mainly by media streaming apps like Netflix, Pandora, and Tencent Video, for example, but Tinder makes a notable showing as one of the top five worldwide apps by revenue.

Thanks to subscriptions and other trends, App Annie predicts the worldwide iOS App Store revenue will grow 80 percent from 2017 to $75.7 billion by 2022.

And while the App Store today has over 2 million apps, it has seen over 4.5 million apps released on its store to date. Many of these have been removed by Apple or the developers, which is why the number of live apps is so much lower.

The full report with the charts included is here.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch

Alcatel’s $100 Android Go phone hits the U.S. next week

Alcatel’s 0 Android Go phone hits the U.S. next week

At MWC, ZTE promised that its Tempo Go would be the first device to bring Android Oreo (Go Edition) to the States. But, well, stuff happened, and the company’s had a lot bigger things to deal with in the intervening months. Alcatel, however, is on the case with the 1X. 

TCL announced this morning that the budget device will be hitting Amazon some time next week, priced at an extremely affordable $100, unlocked. It will also be arriving at Best Buy and Walmart soon after, no doubt taking advantage of the fact that it’s the only Android Go handset available in the U.S. for the time being.

The specs are unsurprisingly uninspiring. There’s a 960 x 480 5.3-inch screen, a MediaTek chip and 1GB of RAM. The good news, however, is that the new, lightweight version of Google’s mobile operating system is built for exactly those hardware restraints, which means you ought to get a much smoother Android experience than you would on a similarly specced handset running the full OS.

While the operating system is well positioned to get a foothold in developing countries, Google was quick to point out that it wasn’t limiting Android Go’s availability to those parts of the world. But while a number of manufacturers have signed on, none appeared too eager to launch the handsets in the States — well, aside from ZTE, but we all know how that went.

Another Android Go devices is on the way as well, with HMD bringing the Nokia 2.1 to the States in July.

Source: Mobile – Techcruch