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Android’s Lollipop Debuts and More: This Week In Mobility

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Android 5.0 Lollipop Offers New Notification Setup, Multitasking and Other Features
Android 5.0 Lollipop, released last week, boasts more than just a new sleek design. The new operating system features a notification setup that promises to prioritize the reminders that are most important to a given user. In addition, the new OS makes multitasking easier with a task system that displays open apps as a stack of cards that users can scroll through, allowing them to switch between apps with ease. And device-sharing features allow users to create multiple user profiles and then access those profiles from any Android device.

These new features point to several trends in mobile app usage. Personalized notifications will help users better manage and control the interactions that are competing for their attention based on their unique preferences. Multitasking offers more fluid experience for tasks that require multiple apps. And device-sharing features mean families or other groups can more easily share devices by switching between different set-ups that allow for control of who has access to specific apps and settings.

Google, Facebook and Microsoft Take Mobile-First to a New Level
With the recent releases of Google’s Inbox, Facebook’s Paper and Microsoft’s Sway, these three tech giants are attempting to redefine what it means to develop an app that is “mobile-first”. In the past, mobile apps from web- and desktop-focused companies have attempted to simply translate the web experience directly to mobile. But anyone who has used one of these apps can tell you that that translation is hardly ever a seamless one.

Users expect a different type of experience when they are interacting with products and services via mobile devices as compared to desktop or web. And the developers behind Inbox, Paper and Sway understand that.

Built around Gmail, Inbox takes a new approach to displaying, sorting and enabling action on email messages. It’s designed to help users get right to the most important messages while they’re on the go, helping them skim past hundreds of irrelevant messages in order to boost productivity and save time.

Similarly, Paper takes the same content you would find on your Facebook newsfeed, but organizes it in easy to-navigate sections that emphasize large images and are quickly navigable using native mobile swipe gestures. Microsoft’s Sway works to empower mobile users with an app to efficiently create PowerPoint presentations using mobile devices while on-the-go.

Mobility Meets the Needs of Hotel Guests in a Hurry
Starwood Hotels launched a mobile key app last week at 10 hotels in its Aloft, Element and W hotel brands. The app will allow guests to skip the check-in process and get settled in their rooms, using their mobile devices to key in. Several other hotel chains including Hyatt Hotels, Hilton Worldwide and Marriott are also in the process of testing mobile key technology with the goal of improving the customer experience.

While the Starwood app promises hassle-free check-in, onlookers have raised concerns regarding security. More flexible systems intended to provide a better customer experience may introduce more points of vulnerability. Additionally, guests who use insecure (or no) mobile device passwords could place themselves at risk when using mobile key apps. Mobile apps can be the perfect tool to provide greater customer convenience, but it’s important to implement sufficient security protocols.

Microsoft and Dropbox Connect Mobile Services
While the two compete in some areas of their businesses Microsoft and Dropbox are teaming up to connect their mobile services. Now Dropbox mobile app users can edit Microsoft Office files with ease on their mobile devices. Additionally, Microsoft Office files created on mobile devices can now be saved directly to Dropbox.

The new collaboration suggests both companies are dedicated to giving consumers and businesses what they want. For Microsoft, the partnership adds new appeal to Office mobile apps. For Dropbox, it is about enterprise credibility and reach – partnering with Microsoft Office creates ties with one of the most popular business tools on the planet.

Whole Foods’ Mobile Efforts Paying Off
After expanding their business beyond the brick-and-mortar, Whole Foods now says they’re reaping the benefits. Technology initiatives including a partnership with Instacart and the implementation of Apple Pay, along with a new mobile app, have been key to their success, according to Whole Foods CIO Jason Buechel.

Instacart has resulted in digital shopping carts that are 2.5 times larger than in-store carts, and the grocery chain has already processed more than 150,000 transactions using Apple Pay, which went live last month. The company says feedback from Apply Pay users has allowed them to improve their own mobile apps. What’s interesting about these efforts is that Whole Foods isn’t just using technology to enhance business as usual; they’re changing their business model to offer customers more options and greater convenience – and seeing dramatic success from it.

Check out our Q&A with Propelics’ Eric Carlson for ideas on ways other grocery stores and retailers can use technology to transform their businesses.

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