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Target App Maps Black Friday Deals & More: This Week in Mobility

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New App Features Help Target Customers Navigate Stores
Last week, Target released a new feature for their customer-facing app that allows store patrons to locate merchandise as pins on a map. The Point Inside technology is similar to map applications that direct users around town, allowing shoppers to navigate aisles to find exactly what they’re looking for. Arriving just in time for the holidays, the feature will help customers locate Black Friday sales and doorbusters. Shopping lists, type-ahead and auto-complete functions have also been added to the app, which now supports Apple Pay.

Target’s attention to meeting customer needs through mobile apps is nothing new. The company’s flagship app and couponing app, Cartwheel, have high rankings in the Lifestyle section on iTunes and several other apps dedicated to wish lists and registries allow users to access the functions they need with ease.

Facebook Debuts Group App
Following Facebook’s release of Paper and its recent announcement that offshoot app Messenger has a half-billion users checking in monthly, the company released another app. Groups, which takes a pre-existing feature from Facebook’s main app, allows users to organize, message and collaborate with groups of people. Facebook said in a blog post that it hopes the separate app will allow users to access features faster and more easily. Group’s release highlights Facebook’s continued efforts to put user experience first by creating specialized apps for those looking to use just one piece of Facebook’s wide array of capabilities.

ESPN Looks to Get App Overload Under Control
While Facebook builds its mobile app portfolio, ESPN’s digital team is working to cut back. A few years ago the network had 45 different apps, which left potential users struggling to figure out which one offered the functionalities they were looking for. Since then, ESPN has been working to reduce the number of apps it offers. Additionally, the network plans to relaunch its SportsCenter app, rebranding it as the ESPN App, early next year. The revamped app will offer users the ability to personalize, which means the network won’t need to release specialized apps for each sporting event.

ESPN’s app overload begs the question, how many apps is too many? Providing users with specialized apps is important, but inundating them with apps that overlap or don’t have clear, discrete functions can cause a serious problem, which ESPN is learning the hard way. If you’re unsure how many apps to build or what they should include, start by finding out what your users really want and need and build from there.

Starwood CEO Ditches His Desktop
Starwood Hotels & Resorts CEO Frits van Paasschen is ditching his desktop and taking on a more mobile approach to business. “I do all of my work via mobile so essentially my office is wherever I go, and I can be much more productive,” van Paasschen told The Wall Street Journal. Starting with their CEO, Starwood is amping up their mobility strategy, embracing device capabilities to find new ways to boost productivity and customer service. With the launch of its new “Room Cataloguing” app, hotel associates can reference 12 million data points about hotel rooms around the world without being tied to a desktop computer. Associates will be able to meet guests’ needs quickly and with ease, placing them in the perfect room that meets their specifications.

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