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The Week in Mobile: Feb. 2-6, 2015

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Google Now supports third-party apps, why mobile moments matter, augmented reality 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 Adds Support for Third-Party Apps
Google is adding interactions from outside apps to Now, a tool for Android that helps users stay on top of their day by learning behaviors and needs over time through user input, previous actions and data from apps like Gmail and Google Calendar. Google Now intuitively delivers information to users before they ask for it and with an initial 30 companies being granted access to Google Now through a closed API, users of the mobile assistant will be able to enjoy a more integrated experience. Apps given access to the API, which include Airbnb, Pandora, Lyft and Walgreens, will be able to deliver information to Google Now users through 40 or so new ‘cards.’ For example, Pandora will be able to recommend radio stations and Lyft will be able to tell users what it will cost to get home from their current location. The opening up of Google Now foreshadows a whole new dimension of contextual and predictive interactions that developers will be able to offer users.

Under Armour Acquires Two Mobile Fitness Apps for $560 Million
Under Armour is expanding its portfolio of fitness capabilities with the purchase of calorie tracking and meal planning app MyFitnessPal and personal trainer app Endomondo. The company spent a total of $560 million for the two apps in a bid to become the world’s biggest tracker of fitness information. In 2013, Under Armour bought fitness tracking app MapMyFitness and has been steadily integrating fitness tracking services into its sportswear. The three apps give Under Armour a total of 120 million users and allows the company to offer customers technology and services on top of their sporting goods product line.

Augmented Reality Brings Art Shopping to Life
Curioos, a curated online marketplace for art prints, released its first native mobile app for Android and iOS. Users are able to see what a piece of art will look like once installed by selecting a print and holding their device up to a wall. The app also allows users to choose frames and take a photo of how the piece of art will look in order to share with others. Curioos isn’t the first retailer to take advantage of augmented reality. Ikea’s catalog app allows users to see what furniture will look like in their home before they purchase it and eBay’s iPhone Fashion app allows users to try sunglasses on virtually. Creative use cases like these cater to customer needs in a way that was not previously possible.

Forrester Explains Why Mobile Moments Matter
As more and more businesses are catching on and reaping the benefits of mobility, “mobile moments” matter more than ever. According to George Colony, CEO of Forrester Research, “mobile moments” are instances of need where customers conduct a transaction with their mobile device. If the interaction is positive, customer loyalty increases, but if the interaction goes poorly (functionality fails or the desired tools aren’t available), customers will likely dump the app (or even the company), especially if the problem occurs a second time.

Freddie Mac CIO Rob Lux had his own “mobile moment” in which he was unable to move his digital boarding pass to Passbook. Lux’s experience led him to acknowledge the pressure companies face to build apps that not only work seamlessly, but also delight customers. As user expectations continue to rise, just getting the job done may not be enough – companies need their apps to wow customers in order to really build loyalty.

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