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The Week in Mobile: Jan. 12-16, 2015

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Google pulls Glass off the market, how to make a mobile app stand out among millions 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 Pulls Glass Off the Market
Google’s Glass Explorer Edition, a wearable technology with an optical display, will be pulled off the shelves January 19. The product will still be available to companies and developers for professional applications, but consumers will no longer be able to purchase the wearable technology. Considering the negative response many consumers had when the product first released in 2013, it is unlikely the recall will cause much upset. (Some think it was doomed from day one.) However, the technology isn’t totally dead; Google plans to release a new consumer-facing version of Glass later this year. The Glass project is also leaving the Google X sandbox for its own division, which will report to Nest chief executive Tony Fadell. Google plans to release a new version of Glass later this year.

How to Make a Mobile App that Stands Out Among Millions
Last week VentureBeat set out to answer a question that is likely on the minds of many app developers. Moving into 2015, how do you develop an app that stands out from the millions being downloaded daily? According to the vice president of marketing at Skyhook, Mike Schneider, the answer is simple. Know your user. User context that draws on past, present and predictive data will be increasingly important to creating a successful app. For example, knowing the location of a user and tailoring experience accordingly can help developers create a flawless user experience. Apps that understand who a user is, where they are, how they are using a device and why are more likely to stand out from the pack and succeed in the long run.

Facebook Acquires Voice Recognition Technology Start-Up
Wit.ai, a voice recognition technology start-up, has been acquired by Facebook, which could lead to the release of some exciting new features in the social network’s apps. Wit.ai’s voice recognition capabilities are similar to Apple’s Siri, Google Now and Cortana, allowing users to interact with apps, wearables and messaging tools via voice. Voice command features and hands-free typing capabilities will improve the user experience with Facebook on smartphones, but this kind of interface will become all but indispensable as we make the move to form factors like smart watches, glasses and other wearables. It should come as no surprise that companies like Facebook are showing interest in voice recognition technologies; early adoption of voice command capabilities will give apps an edge as these products begin to emerge.

Google Releases Classroom Mobile App
Google first launched Classroom about six months ago. Since, then 30 million school assignments have been submitted via the tech giant’s classroom education initiative. Now, the company is turning to mobility in the hopes of building upon the program’s success. Last week, Google released the Classroom mobile app, which allows students to take photos and attach them to assignments as well as share images and PDFs from other apps. The app also allows for offline caching so students can get work done without a connection. Classroom’s web-based tools allow teachers and students to keep track of multiple tasks, but the mobile app will allow users to work with the platform seamlessly, even while they are on-the-go.

Big Name Retailers are Shaking Up the Shopping Experience
Big name retail brands, including Burberry and Ulta Beauty, are stepping up their mobile strategy by designing apps for “clienteling”. The term has become a major buzzword in retail and for good reason. “Clienteling” refers to a solution that helps businesses engage with customers to create a personalized experience. Now, more often than not, that means a killer mobile strategy that uses apps to get to know customers and then applies that information to create custom offerings and advice. For example, Ulta’s app allows users to bookmark products seen in InStyle and suggests popular products based on the customer’s profile. Similarly, employee-facing apps can tap into customer profiles and information on past purchases. That means sales associates on the floor can provide customers with personalized assistance. With mobile apps designed for “clienteling,” customers get the help they need and retail brands build loyalty.

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